There will be no shortage of superlatives to describe the play and composure of young amateur Harrison Crowe after his victory at the Golf Challenge NSW Open on Sunday. But quite simply he stood up and identified himself as the best player all week.
The 20-year-old admitted that he was a bundle of nerves early on at Concord Golf Club, however you wouldn’t know it from his play, the St. Michael’s Golf Club member via Bardwell Valley making three straight birdies to pull away from co-leader Blake Collyer and stamp his authority on the PGA Tour of Australasia event.
“I really actually settled down after about six,” he said of his nerves while clutching the Kel Nagle Cup on the 18th green. “I felt all right after the first tee shot and really knuckled down. Then to turn five-under, but not getting up-and-down on 11 kind of creeped me a little bit, and 17 and 18 I’ve never been so nervous in my life.”
Crowe finally made his first bogey of the week on the 10th hole, while other players pressed their case to upset the growing crowd that was without doubt in the corner of the casual worker at Drummond Golf Stanmore, who had his boss Craig Delaney on the bag.
Blake Windred looked the most likely after an eagle and birdie at the 11th and 12th, but failure to setup genuine birdie chances over the last two holes meant he finished at 17-under and took runner-up honours alone.
RIGHT: Crowe poses with the trophy at Concord Golf Club on Sunday. PHOTOS: Kirsty Wrice (right), Adrian Logue (top).
The Novocastrian something of a lucky loser, Windred walking away with the full winner’s cheque of $72,000 that Crowe was unable to claim, although he will sit down with his parents and coaches to discuss whether he takes the pro plunge to utilise the Tour card on offer to him.
“It’s something to think about. I don’t want to try and dwell on it too much now,” he said of joining the play for pay ranks. “I think I’m going enjoy my night. I’ve got an early flight tomorrow which I won’t be crash hot for out to Adelaide. It’s something to talk over with the parents, the coaches, team, and go from there.”
Jordan Zunic was another to throw his hat in the ring, but the former New Zealand Open champion was, like Windred, unable to really apply pressure to Crowe over the closing stages. A feat nearly achieved by a player no one had on the radar at the start of the day. Daniel Gale on 59 watch after starting on the 10th tee before bogeys at 7 and 9 meant he signed for a round of the day 62 that took him into a share of 14th.
Despite those players doing their best to unsettle the young amateur, Crowe remained calm and collected over the back nine, despite failing to add another birdie to his total, a lipped-out chance at the par-5 15th frustrating Crowe. A result he believed he got some payback for when getting a lucky break on the 18th hole after a pulled drive left him with a shot into the green from the woodchips. An opening he took full advantage of when finding the green and two putting to rapturous applause and a champagne shower from his fellow amateurs and recently turned professional.
“Proabably have a beer out of the trophy … looks pretty clean.” - Harrison Crowe.
“Lucky break to have a shot. I feel like I deserved it after the horseshoe at 15,” Crowe said. “A little bit of luck, when it goes your way, you take it. I don’t know if I kept the putter still. I just said, ‘hit it hard’. It’s not quick up there, and try and hole it’.’’
Hole it he nearly did and the celebrations that ensued will last long into the night, Crowe who had noted to this reporter he was dying for a beer all week long but was doing the sensible thing noting, “Proabably have a beer out of the trophy … looks pretty clean.”
"I can’t describe it,” Crowe added of the feeling when the putt hit the bottom of the final cup.
Crowe joins Australian legend Jim Ferrier as the only concurrent NSW Amateur and NSW Open champion, and Ben Eccles, Peter O’Malley, Tony Gresham and Ferrier as the players to win both titles. Eccles also winning his Open as an amateur in 2015.
A huge achievement, and one no one who has met the man known as ‘Crowie’ would think him undeserving of. His attitude and manner matching the high level of play he displayed over three days at Concord, when Crowe stood far taller than his 6 foot frame.