Jason Norris has been a touring professional for 21 years. His last good win was seven years ago in the Victorian Open. Now, he has overcome the yips for a life-changing four-stroke win in the Fiji International.
The 44-year-old journeyman carded a final round 67 around the challenging Natadola Bay course to finish at 14 under in the event tri-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, European and Asian Tours.
The South Australian now has playing opportunities on the European and Asian Tours, which marks an incredible life change for Norris who, up until last week, was working at Adelaide’s Grange Golf Club and on the verge of giving the game away.
“Today I felt good, I felt like a champion,” Norris said.
“I said a couple of years ago when I was about to quit, that I didn’t want to give it away until I had won a big tournament because I know I can.
“I told the boss last week that I have probably two years left playing golf and I just want to have a crack. This came up quicker than I thought.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s good to see you all (the waiting media) on Sunday instead of on Thursday every time. I think it was just our week, everything aligned and putts dropped and some good shots came, it was amazing.”
Freely admitting to suffering from the yips, Norris at time this past week used three different grips per round, but today everything clicked.
“Today I used backhand grip all day. I putted well with the grip on the back nine yesterday so I stuck with it,” said Norris, who admitted he played mini golf at the Fiji resort he was staying at during the tournament to work on his putting.
“I putted sensational all day; even the ones that I three putted were just bad speed.”
Thailand’s Jazz Janewattananond shot the round of the final day to grab a share of second place alongside Victorian pair David McKenzie and James Marchesani. Janewattananond, 21, made the cut on the number on Friday and finished the tournament in a flurry, setting a course record eight-under 64 that included six birdies and an eagle.
“I am just really happy to put up a good score. It’s always good to shoot a bogey-free round. I couldn’t make any putts in the first two days but I had been hitting the ball good all week. I managed to sink some putts today and yesterday and I guess that was the key,” said Janewattananond, whose par-5 17th hole eagle came courtesy a long putt.
Norris collected won AU$237,500 for his victory – undoubtedly the biggest cheque in his 21-year professuional career – and surged to No.2 on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, about $44,000 behind World Super 6 Perth champion Brett Rumford.
The PGA Tour of Australasia will travel back to Australia for the Northern Territory PGA Championship to be played at Darwin’s Palmerston Golf Course from August 31 to September 3.
VIDEO: FINAL ROUND HIGHLIGHTS BELOW