09 Jan 2016
Aaron Wise and the spoils of victory at Royal Melbourne. Picture: SNAPETURE SPORTS
If you didn’t manage to see Aaron Wise this week, fear not.
The young American brought a professional-style approach to Royal Melbourne and walked away tonight with the Australian Master of the Amateurs crown, at five under a two-shot winner over England’s Jonathan Thomson.
Wise, the world No.8, also gave a promise it’s not hard to imagine him keeping, saying he’d be back in years to come as a pro after loving his experience of golf “Down Under”.
The University of Oregon sophomore nailed five birdies against four bogeys to shoot a closing 71 on the West Course after seeing off a handful of challenges on a testing last day.
Thomson, one back to begin, made a ballistic start and charged past the American with three consecutive birdies before a double-bogey on the long fourth hole cost him the lead.
Charlie Dann roared through the field after turning in 33, dropping a shot on the 10th, but making eagle and birdie on the 12th and 15th, respectively, to reach four under with three to play.
But the affable Queenslander closed with three bogeys to slide back to one under and outright third, a shot clear of the impressive Cameron John, with his fellow Victorian Tom Power-Horan faltering late to finish fifth at one over.
Wise, though, was calm throughout.
He made bogey for the fourth consecutive round on the short par-four 10th, then followed that with another blemish on the brutal 11th.
But true to his demeanour and the chats he has shared with caddie and RMGC member Oliver Stone and club head pro Bruce Green during the week, he knuckled back down with birdies on 12 and 15 to ensure victory and become just the second American after Mark Anderson in 2009 to win the green jacket.
“It was a rough stretch on 10-11, but I managed to ride it out,” Wise said.
“I couldn’t figure 10 out all week – I bogeyed it every day and I’m a little upset about that.
“But 11 is just a hard hole and bogey is not the end of the world, then I knew I could make a birdie on 12 straight away which I managed and then just got the job done down the stretch there.”
Wise paid tribute to his local mentors, also taking time to smell the roses at the historic and world’s sixth-ranked course.
“Any time you get to win a tournament at Royal Melbourne, it’s really special,” Wise said.
“Me and Ollie talked about it coming down a couple of fairways – it’s incredible to think of the players who’ve walked right where we’re walking and we’re sitting there thinking where are we going to hit this, and the game’s greats have thought exactly the same thing. It’s awesome.
“It’s huge to have learnt from Ollie and Bruce – just a pleasure. Having a caddie experienced like him who can calm you down when you need to be calmed and pump you up when you need that is invaluable.”
The round, combined with US teammate Matt NeSmith’s closing 73, was enough to secure the Americans the team trophy, fulfilling two goals for Wise, who could rise as high as No.5 in the world when the results are processed this week.
But even more important to Wise was the lessons he learnt on his trip to Australia, where he said he would “definitely” return if ever given the chance as a future professional.
“If I can come back again, I’ll be here, for sure.
“I’ll take away from this things you can’t learn in the US – playing a course like this, you learn so much more.
“In the States you hear people talk about playing away from flags but it’s not really the thing to do because the greens are so soft and you can just attack.
“Here, it’s true. You gotta play away or you’re in big trouble if you miss your target.”