Taranaki professional golfer Grant Moorhead held his nerve on the home stretch to win the first Charles Tour event of the season at Palmerston North yesterday.
Moorhead had four rounds of 69 to win the four-day LawnMaster Classic by one stroke at 12 under par on the sun-baked Manawatu Golf Club course.
It was Moorhead's first Charles Tour win after many close calls in the past and a form slump late last year.
He held off doughty young Waikato amateur Luke Toomey, who had cut his two-stroke deficit to one with a birdie to Moorhead's par on the par-five 15th.
"I am just feeling a huge sense of relief," said an emotional Moorhead, who claimed the $7200 prize.
"Today's final round is just such a blur. I can't remember the middle part of the round at all. But I hung in there and played really nicely.
"It starts to play on your mind a bit, finishing second or third so many times, so to get up and win here is a huge thrill.
"It means a lot to me to win on the Charles Tour; it has been a long time coming."
Moorhead had struggles with his swing for most of last year, so was thrilled to kick off 2013 in winning style.
"I have won plenty of four-round tournaments as a pro but most of them were back in the 90s, so it is nice to know that I can still compete and win against the younger pros."
He paid special tribute to Toomey, who backed up his course record 63 in round three with an even-par 72 to finish one back and the leading amateur.
"Luke played great today and he has a big future. Every time I got ahead he kept coming back at me. His birdie putt that he made on the 15th was just outrageous and right to the end he didn't give up. This win is even more special because he really made me earn it."
In third place was Te Anau professional David Klein with rounds of 66 74 70 and 68.
Defending titleholder from the amateur 72-hole strokeplay LawnMaster last year was Masterton's Harry Bateman who plays pennants at Royal Wellington. He finished in a tie for fourth at 9 under par with another highly promising Waikato youngster, 16-year-old Nick Coxon from the Narrows club in Hamilton.
The runaway winner in the small women's field, at 14 under par, was new New Zealand representative Lita Guo from Auckland's Remuera club with 70 68 71 and 73.
She led from start to finish.
Guo was 16 under with six holes to play and won by six shots from fellow international Julianne Alvarez (Wellington).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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