Surviving a "horrible" Saturday with minimal damage at Paraparaumu Beach saw a cool-headed Lachie McDonald celebrate his first 72-hole tournament victory in the Wellington Strokeplay yesterday.
The Palmerston North-based 21-year-old, from the Marton club, held his nerve in the wind and rain for a four-stroke win on one of the country's most feared layouts.
McDonald had to work for it, starting yesterday at 7am to complete his second round and playing 38 holes on a marathon day. He held a one-stroke lead over Takaka's Blair Riordan at the halfway point, then made his move in the third round with a one-under-par 70 as the challengers dropped away.
That gave the left-hander a four-shot buffer entering the final round, which he maintained with a final round 73, beating Paraparaumu veteran Frank Borren and Taranaki's Brad Hayward who were tied for second, still four shots adrift.
"I didn't have a double bogey all weekend which was huge because that was what cost a lot of guys; some great golf marred by getting in the rough and paying for it," McDonald said.
"It was horrible [on Saturday], a lot of wind and rain. It was hard work, there were a lot of big numbers. To get in with 74, 75 I was really happy."
Paraparaumu Beach has always treated McDonald well, and he was bullish about his chances in the NZ Golf order of merit event.
"I've always enjoyed Paraparaumu. When I was 17 in the NZ amateur I had a 64 in the final round, so that gave me a lot of confidence going into the week. There's a lot of bogey and double bogey holes out there so I just had to stay calm and it paid off."
McDonald's game has gone up a level in recent months since he gave up his full-time job for a contract role, three days a week at the national parts distribution centre for the company Truck Stops in Palmerston North. That leaves four days free for golf practice and tournaments.
McDonald was in national junior squads and a continuation of his current form will see the national selectors calling. A professional career is the ultimate aim, with the Tauranga Open his next chance to make a statement in a top 72-hole amateur tournament.
Meanwhile, there was a strong local flavour in the women's event, with Manor Park's Julianne Alvarez claiming victory by one stroke.
The Wellington No 1 was beaten by her friend and rep team-mate Te Rongopai Clay by two shots at the national under-19 championships in Auckland the previous week, but reaffirmed her status yesterday.
Alvarez shot a final round two-over 76 but it was enough to hold off Waikato's Hannah Seifert, who carded the same score.
Former Wellington No 1 Lucy Davis came home with an even-par 74 to claim third, one shot behind Seifert.
- © Fairfax NZ News