Shilton conquers nerves for maiden victory
Te Awamutu's Brad Shilton captured the biggest win of his career at the South Pacific Open in New Caledonia on Saturday.
Shilton secured his breakthrough win on the PGA Tour of Australasia with a one-stroke victory over defending champion Matthew Griffin.
“I'm stoked, it's been a pretty long time coming so to finally get it done is awesome,” the 33-year-old said.
“I still felt like I was playing OK, I tried to stay controlled and the whole day just really kept my head on.
“To finish pretty strong at the end, making a few birdies coming in, was awesome.”
Shilton shot an even par final round of 72 to finish the tournament on 13-under-par 271, giving him his biggest pay day and his first victory since claiming the Wairakei Open on the domestic Charles Tour in 2009.
The former New Zealand amateur representative earned $23,000 for his win in Noumea.
Shilton started the final day with a three-shot lead and held his composure as Australian Griffin made a charge.
“I got a wee bit nervy I suppose but that's going to happen," Shilton said.
"Considering I haven't been in that position for ages, especially in one of these events, I am pretty proud of that.
“I had a rough idea of what Matt was doing, but I wasn't terribly sure until the 15th tee when I saw he was 13-under and probably going to 14, and that's when I made a couple of birdies so I figured that I was keeping up with him.
“I actually saw him hole a good putt on 16, which I figured was probably for birdie which would have put me one behind. But then I heard it was for bogey so I would have been one in front there.
"I realised that if I could make birdie on 17 and have two shots it would be huge,” said Shilton, who made the birdie he was after.
Leading by two playing the last, Shilton three-putted to drop a shot but safely secure victory.
“I had been leaving putts short all week, so the first one wasn't a surprise.
"I got a look at the leaderboard before I hit the second putt, saw that I was two in front and probably just didn't really get focused enough on that one.
“I was probably more thinking about ‘Don't get it wrong' rather than just roll it in. I hit a pretty ugly putt but it doesn't matter.”
Shilton has been playing the PGA Tour of Australasia for seven years and had been facing an uncertain future next year.
“Not having played a lot this year I didn't know where I was going to be standing for the next few events," he said.
“I didn't really know if I was going to be playing well or not so it's good to come out and do this. It gives me a good start for the order of merit as well, so if I keep playing like this I'll be all right for next year as well, so it's all good.”
- © Fairfax NZ News
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