New South Welshman Blake Windred showed a touch of class on the 72nd hole to claim his maiden professional victory at the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links yesterday.
The 24-year-old shot a three-under par final round of 69 on the Open Course to finish twelve-under for the tournament and one stroke clear of playing partner Brad Kennedy.
It was a moment to savour for the European Challenge Tour player who described achieving one of his lifelong ambitions as “unreal”.
“I’m so pleased with not necessarily how I played, but how I got it done,” he said.
“It is one goal that I’ve had on my mirror for the last couple of years. I just haven’t been able to tick off the first professional win.
“To be honest, I was thinking about it with three holes to go. I was thinking about ticking that off. I was trying to stay in the moment but it’s very hard not to think about such a big thing.”
He had to save par twice to win – first with a monster two-putt on the par-3 17th and then with an up-and-down after scrambling from a fairway bunker on the par-5 18th.
“I’ve had a lot of help from my mind coach John Novak over the years. He’s always told me that whenever the ball is in a poor position or in a bad lie that it’s an opportunity to make something great happen,” he said.
Something great certainly did happen as he rose to the occasion to put his chip close on the 18th and he tapped in to complete victory after Kennedy’s birdie chance did not drop.
“In my career I want to be winning more of these trophies and just being in contention is the best feeling ever. It’s why I practise as hard as I do and make the sacrifices I do,” he said.
“It’s for that feeling of being in contention, under all the lights, and getting it done.”
Getting it done of course included a huge up and down on the 18th after inexplicably finding a fairway bunker while laying up with a long iron. Faced with 100m to the flag, Windred ensured he escaped the trap but caught the shot a touch heavy, resulting in him being forced to play his fourth shot before Kennedy had time to contemplate his delicate third shot to the par five.
What ensued was world class: Windred nipping his pitch shot perfectly from an awkward distance to within inches of the hole, forcing Kennedy to have to birdie to send the championship into extra holes. When his birdie putt slid by, Windred was left to clean up from close range to savour victory.
The day was also special for Queenslander Cory Crawford, 29, and Victorian Cameron John, 22, who both shot seven-under par rounds of 65 to surge into a share of third place.