Photo: Australian Golf Media
Melburnian Jasper Stubbs has earned himself life-changing start in the Open Championship and The Masters in 2024 after he won a dramatic playoff victory in the Asia-Pacific Championship at Royal Melbourne.
Just before 5.30pm on the 18th green of the famous Composite course, the 21-year-old Stubbs tapped in a short par putt at the second playoff hole to beat China’s Wenyi Ding, who had moments earlier lipped out with his three-metre par putt.
Stubbs, who is in the Golf Australia High Performance program, earns a start in The Masters tournament next April, the Open Championship at Royal Troon in July 2024, and the R&A Amateur Championship in June at Ballyliffin in Ireland as spoils of his victory.
He is the second consecutive Australian winner of the AAC after Harrison Crowe’s triumph in Thailand last year.
“That’s just life-changing,” he said afterward. “My golf today proves that belief takes you a long way.”
Having started the final round six shots back from the leader, China’s Yunhe Zheng, Stubbs was heading nowhere when he slipped to 2-over par for the day through six holes. He was seven back at one point. But Zheng began to show signs of stress, making a double bogey 6 at the par-4 second, and the players in the chasing pack saw a sliver of a chance.
And Stubbs was up for it. He birdied the seventh, the 11th and the 13th to get within two shot, and by the time he made a bomb for birdie at the par-5 17th, he was only a shot behind Zheng.
Soon afterward, Zheng messed up the 17th finding a cross bunker, made bogey, and for the first time all day Stubbs, who would make a solid par at the tough 18th hole, had a share of the lead with the two Chinese players.
Stubbs carded a 2-under 69 and his back nine of 33 was top shelf in the circumstances.
Ultimately it came down to a three-player playoff between Zheng, Ding and Stubbs at the 18th, all three of them at 1-over par overall – the highest winning score in the tournament’s history.
Stubbs and Ding both birdied the first playoff hole, eliminating Zhang.
At the second playoff hole, again on the 18th, Stubbs made a great par from the back of the green, and Ding found the greenside trap and made bogey. The Australian sealed it with a short par putt and was doused with champagne by his teammates a few moments later.
“The Masters is everything every kid dreams of,” he said. “It’s the one tournament every golfer wants to play in his life, and now that it’s a reality, I am speechless. It was always a dream. Now it’s a reality, I don’t know what it’s going to look like.”
“I’m just excited for April now and also for the Open. I’ve been in the UK and tried to qualify for that championship before and now that I’m exempt in there it’s going to be pretty nice to go over there and see how I go.”
Four Australians played their way into the top 10 today – Stubbs, Max Charles who finished tied-fourth, Billy Dowling who played in the last group but fell away with a 78, and Jeff Guan (ninth).
THE AUSTRALIANS AT THE AAC
+1 Jasper Stubbs 1st 68-74-74-69 – 285
+2 Max Charles T4
+ 7 Jeff Guan 9th
+ 8 Billy Dowling 10th
+10 Connor McDade T12
+11 Quinnton Croker T19
+14 Lucas Michel T28
+ 17 Jye Pickin T39
+18 Harry Takis T41
+19 Jack Buchanan T45
+20 Jake Riley, Connor Fewkes T48
MC Harry Bolton