The king is dead, all hail the new prince.
Sydney’s Harrison Crowe took the biggest scalp of his young career today, dethroning No.1 seed David Micheluzzi in the first match of the Australian Amateur Championship knockout phase at Woodlands.
Crowe, a member at St Michael’s and still just 17, took down the new World No.6 with a quality 2&1 victory that belied his last-man-in status as No.64 seed.
“It feels amazing. I did fight towards the end to grind out a victory and a few birdies helped, so I’m rapt, yeah,” beamed Crowe, who’d amazingly been four shots adrift of the eventual cut line with just nine holes to play on Wednesday, contemplating an early flight home.
From that point, the young New South Wales state team member has done nothing more than play exemplary golf. He made four birdies including one on the last hole to make the stroke play playoff, a birdie on the first playoff hole to reach match play, then was nominally three under through 17 holes to take down the red-hot favourite a day after he’d earnt a share of the Woodlands course record.
“Towards the end (today on the 13th and 14th), I had a couple of birdies in a row to go `dormie (four) up’, then `Micha’ had a couple of birdies. I didn’t want to go up 17, but it’s good now,” said Crowe, who admitted his week had changed in a hurry, especially after assuming the prized No.1 slot in the match play draw.
“100 per cent. I wouldn’t have thought about being here at all after 27 holes (of stroke play).
“But I still have to play good golf, it’s not just going to happen.”
RIGHT: Former champion Keita Nakajima remains alive in the Australian Amateur Championship. PHOTO: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.
Micheluzzi, impressively humble and respectful, admitted he was flat, but was full of praise for his conqueror.
“Harrison played really well the first three holes (par, eagle, birdie) so I was down early, tried my hardest to fight back but he made two or three birdies in the last five holes as well,” said Micheluzzi, who was a record 16-under-par with two course record eight-under-par rounds to be medallist by an amazing seven strokes.
“Credit to him, he’s a very fine young player and when I found out he was just 17 I was a bit shocked, he was bombing it past me.
“Tonight I’ll probably be a little angry, but at the end of the day it’s just a round of golf. These things happen and I played well the last few days and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Beyond Micheluzzi’s shock loss, the international raiders – and Australia’s territories – flexed their muscle on day one of the men’s match play.
After the loss of top seed in the first match out, shockwaves were felt around Woodlands, putting the smell of more upsets in the air.
But other than Queenslander Yuji Sekito knocking out World No.34 Canadian Joey Savoie, most of the rest of the Round of 64 matches went to or near script.
It was encouraging to see two players from the ACT and another from the Northern Territory so prominent for the host nation.
Alice Springs ace Jake Hughes took out Korean Jang Hyun Lee just minutes before Royal Canberra duo Jordan Ayre and Harry Bolton flexed their collective muscle in impressive victories.
Ayre took down Finland’s Ilari Saulo, a promising US collegiate player, 6&5, then celebrated his clubmate Bolton’s imperious 4&2 win over South Australian Jack Buchanan.
New South Wales enjoyed the best day of the traditional powerhouse states with six players advancing to the Round of 32, including Micheluzzi’s conqueror, Harrison Crowe.
Blake Windred, the No.2 seed, set up an all-Newcastle Friday clash with Corey Lamb, while rising trio Nathan Barbieri, Jordie Garner and Justin Warren each advanced in style.
Two former Australian Amateur winners, Keita Nakajima and Victorian Matias Sanchez, each advanced with the reigning Japanese champ finding peak form with a string of back-nine birdies to take down local hope Lukas Michel.
Nakajima will have two compatriots with him tomorrow, but he will have plenty of international support with four Englishman, three Germans, an Irishman, a Singaporean and three New Zealanders, including World No.19 Daniel Hillier, all progressing.
The Thursday match play of the women’s event proved that sometimes birdies just aren’t enough.
Queenslander Sarah Wilson discovered that the hard way in today’s Round of 32 as a swag of birdies couldn’t hold off power-packed Victorian Steph Bunque.
Bunque, a member at nearby Victoria Golf Club, had the upper hand for much of the match until a remarkable fightback from Wilson forced the contest to the very last putt.
“I was 3-up through nine holes and was like. `Yeah I’m going well, this should be a good game’,” Bunque said post-round.
“Then all of a sudden, Sarah turned it on.
“After I eagled nine, she birdied 10, then I birdied 11, and we both birdied 12, she birdied 13 – it was nuts.
Bunque was delighted with her ball striking, calculating a four-under round outside match play format.
“I wouldn’t have had the match any other way.”
But that was where the good news ended for the Victorians in the women’s draw.
Linley Ooi, Jessica Pickwick and Jeneath Wong all bowed out, while New South Wales emerged as the dominant state with four of a possible five advancing through to tomorrow’s Round of 16 at Woodlands.
Much as in the men’s draw, upsets were in the air with recently crowned Australian Master of the Amateurs champion Steph Kyriacou dumped by Sanctuary Cove member Isabelle Taylor 4&3.
Becky Kay had no such luck and fell victim to No.6 seed Miyu Goto on the final hole, with the Japanese contingent waving their colours proudly with four of six starters today victorious.
Yuri Yoshida, one of three medallists, beat China’s Alice Fan 5&3, while Tsubasa Kajitani also wiped England's last hope, Emily Toy, 2&1.
Of her fellow medallists, Sydney’s Doey Choi advanced, but Japan’s Sae Ogura was wiped out 1-up in a tense match with Mollymook’s Kelsey Bennett.
Other winners were Queensland’s Cassie Porter and Hye Park, Jihye Park and Grace Kim of New South Wales, Japan’s Riri Sadoyama, New Zealand’s Darae Chung and Carmen Lim, and Min A Yoon and Hong Yaeeun, both of South Korea.