19 Jan 2024 | Amateur golf |
#AusAm: Croker makes certain of victory on final day
by Patrick Taylor
Australian Quinn Croker secured the biggest win of his career at the adidas Australian Amateur today. Starting the final round four shots clear of second, he ended the day five clear to be crowned the 2024 men's champion. The young Queenslander produced his third straight round in the 60s today, a 3-under 67, to make sure of the win that most would have predicted after witnessing his incredible third round. His 6-under 64 yesterday was a marvel to watch, as Croker navigated irons through the strong wind, flighting the ball down a self-admitted challenge of his. Yarra Yarra local, Phoenix Campbell, was Croker's primary challenger in the final round, and looked like he might give it a real shake early. "I'd never played with him round here before and stood on the first tee and he made a bloody good swing off the first tee so I knew it would be no kick-in," said Croker. His shot of the day came at the second, when he pulled his drive on two left into the trees, and looked to be completely blocked out with no chance of attacking the heavily bunkered green What he produced under the circumstances was a true shot of a champion, and although he didn't hole the putt for birdie, the confidence propelled him through the rest of the round. "I struggle to shape the ball to the right, but I can make it move a lot to the left," he said. "I just aimed 7-iron kind of towards the carpark and just hooked it as much as I could, and it ended up being somehow the right distance, the right line. "It just come into place, that one." While some may have cracked under the pressure Campbell was putting on, Croker seemed to thrive under it, making three birdies in a row from holes eight through ten. After an additional birdie on 14, Croker's lead was eight shots, and he could finally relax a little and enjoy the final stretch of beautiful holes at Yarra Yarra. "Walking off 15 green I saw the leaderboard, and the swings got a little bit easier," Croker said. The win this week is certainly Croker's biggest to date, and is validation for his decision to remain in the amateur ranks despite some incredible results on the Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia this season. Campbell finished in solo second at 9-under, after a valiant 2-under 68 today. He finished strongly, with birdies on 15 and 17, but Croker already had one hand on the trophy by this point. In addition to adding his name to the historic Australian Amateur trophy, Croker also gains a start in this year's Australian Open, another chance to prove he is more than capable of mixing it with the pros.
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