It took three extra holes to separate Solheim Cup teammates Mel Reid and Sandra Gal, but it was Englishwoman Reid who held firm to win the 2017 Oates Vic Open.
After Gal failed to go up-and-down from behind the green on 13th Beach’s closing Beach Course hole, Reid drained a four-foot putt for her sixth Ladies European Tour title.
Reid tragically lost her mother in a car accident in mid-2012, the 29-year-old revealing after she collected her silverware that she’d had a feeling her trip to Barwon Heads would be a special one.
“I don’t know, I had a good feeling about this week, there’s just been a few things,” said Reid.
“I didn’t wanna mention to anyone at the start of the week, but it was my Mum’s birthday this week on Tuesday so I just thought that something good had to happen.
“Then we were warming up on the putting green and my Mum’s favourite film was dirty dancing and they were playing the theme.
“I just said to Benji my caddie, ‘I’ve got a feeling, I’ve just got a feeling about this week mate, it’s fate’.”
Runner-up Gal was in the day’s penultimate pairing, leading the charge for most of the afternoon with Reid, local hope Su Oh and American Angel Yin threatening to draw level.
Reid led by two overnight but got off to a nightmare start, plummeting to 3-over through four holes - the lowlight being a double-bogey at the par-5 7th.
Meanwhile Gal was all class, her fifth birdie of the day coming at the par-3 17th which took her one stroke clear of Reid who still had four holes to play.
After picking up a stroke on the par-5 14th Reid responded immediately, her third birdie of the round coming at the 16th to draw scores level.
She had a chance to end proceedings in regulation time after she settled just short of the green for two.
Her long putt up the false front slid by the pin, Reid leaving herself too much work to do down the hill and handing Gal a lifeline.
On the first playoff hole Reid miscalculated again, her long putt onto the green from a similar position this time coming up well short.
Gal failed to make her pay by missing a birdie try of her own, the second playoff hole following a similar narrative as Gal again failed to get her birdie putt to drop.
It was Gal who blinked first after nearly six hours since walking off the first teebox, a wayward drive forcing her to punch her way up the fairway as Reid launched at the green with another 3-wood.
Gal’s approach sailed long and left, and despite nearly holing her chip shot, she failed to save par and prolong proceedings.
"I just didn’t start it right enough and then obviously rode the wind and went a little long,” Gal said after the loss.
“And then the chip just got a little firm bounce, it was a little unfortunate.
“It’s been a long day and I've had to focus all day long quite hard so it was quite tough to keep every shot high quality.”
Reid didn’t share those thoughts after the trophy ceremony, revealing she was ready for as much golf as it would take in order to earn the winner’s cheque of $75,000.
“I’d say I’m relatively fit and I could just keep going and going and going,” said Reid.
“I wouldn’t have minded how many holes we played, I felt pretty fresh to be quite honest.”
One thing the duo did agree on was the taxing weather, Reid prepared to consider Sunday’s final round one of the toughest of her career.
“It was honestly brutal out there, it was one of the toughest winds I’ve ever had,”
“Just a true test of golf, it brought a lot of character out there today.
“I remember back to Turnberry, it was one of the best rounds I’ve ever shot… when the British Open was there.
It really was a brutal test and fair play to Sandra, what’d she shoot today, 4-under? That’s an incredible round of golf.”
World Number 79 Gal echoed those thoughts and was already trying to take the positives despite the disappointing finish.
“It just played really, really tough today and I shot a great round to get myself in the playoff so I think I can be proud of myself for playing well,” said Gal.
“At time I felt like I was at a British Open today.
“We get that about once a year so its definitely great practise.”
Local hope Oh was close on Sunday but couldn’t reel in the leading duo, the Victorian matching Reid’s round of 1-under 72 to finish two shots out of the playoff.
She shared third position on the standings with playing partner Yin, with South Korean amateur Hye-Jin Choi rounding out the top 5 at 12-under for the week.
New South Welshman Dimi Papadatos has held his nerve in testing Sunday conditions around 13th Beach Golf Links at Barwon Heads to claim the 2017 Oates Vic Open.
A one-under par 71 final round was enough for Papadatos to clinch his first Oates Vic Open title and the $90,000 winner’s cheque.
The 25-year-old finished at 16-under par, two shots clear of South Australian Adam Bland and joint third round leader Queensland’s Jake McLeod.
A shot further back at 13-under was 2015 winner and 13th Beach resident Richard Green and Victorian veteran David McKenzie.
It was Papadatos’ first win since the 2014 New Zealand Open and he said he was thrilled to come out on top at the end of an enthralling day.
Played under overcast conditions, the winds picked up which made scoring difficult and Papadatos said he knew it was going to be a day where he had to concentrate on every shot.
“There were times when I was allowing four (extra) club winds and I was still coming up one-and-a- half clubs short,” Papadatos said.
“It was very strong, heavy wind and it was playing a lot tougher (than the first three days).
“We’ve played in recent years and you know straight away when there’s no wind you can tear it up - but it shows its teeth when it blows like this.
“I’m very happy with how the week panned out. I was coming into a little bit of form I thought. It came a bit earlier than expected but I’m very happy with it.”
Papadatos made just two birdies for the whole round, including one of the par-five fifth hole, and bogeyed the short par-three seventh.
Papadatos went head-to-head with playing partner, Bendigo’s Lucas Herbert, for the lead for most of the back nine after overnight leaders McLeod (75) and Matthew Giles (78) both stumbled.
Herbert led at 16-under after 13 holes but dropped five shots in his last five holes to finish tied for sixth at 12-under.
Papadatos had to wait to see if McLeod eagled the final hole to force a play-off. But McLeod could only manage a par.
“It was a little bit nerve-wracking but I wasn’t too worried about it. I did my job and if Jake made an eagle up the last that would have been fantastic and we go to a play-off,” Papadatos said.
“I knew it was going to be a really, long tough day so I just played pretty solid golf. I didn’t take too many risks because I was right up there so I didn’t need to chance my arm too much.
“I just stayed patient all day and it turned out pretty good.
“I realised after we walked off 14 the guys in the last group had dropped off a little bit so I knew it was probably going to be between him (Herbert) and I coming down the stretch.”
A disappointed Herbert was left to rue some costly errors in his final five holes, including hitting his second shot on the final hole into a hazard when going for broke in an attempt to tie Papadatos.
“Those last five holes a few breaks didn’t go my way,” Herbert mused. “I hit a couple of bad shots in there to be fair and that’s cost me a fair bit unfortunately.
“But that’s golf. You’re going to have a few go your way and few not go your way. But Dimi played so well. He kept pressure on me even when I was playing well before those last five holes.
“I know that finish is going to be a bit bitter but I’m going to try and take the positives from it.”
Papadatos hopes to build on the momentum from this win and look to reclaim playing rights on the European Tour.
“Last year I learnt a lot and realised I had a lot of work to do and, as hard as it was and how much I hated it over there and had a miserable time, I think its paid off for me to know what to expect when I go back over there next time,” he said.
“I’m playing better than what I was. If I took this game over there I’d be right up there.
“But I’ve got a long way to go still. The guys over there are very good and my good weeks like this I’d be right up there. But week in, week out, I’ve got to a bit of work to do I think.”
West Australian Min Woo Lee was the leading amateur and finished in the group tied for sixth at 12-under par after carding the low round of the day, a four-under 68.
Defending champion Michael Long made a good fist of his title defence, shooting a final round three-under par 69 to finish at 11-under and tied 12th.