05 Nov 2023 | Professional golf | Golf Australia |
Campbell creates history with #QLDPGA triumph
by Tony Webeck
For a long time on Sunday, the shot that would win the Queensland PGA Championship proved elusive. In the end, it would be the decision of 22-year-old Victorian amateur Phoenix Campbell to take dead aim at the flag on the 72nd hole that would prove the difference.
As overnight leader Andrew Kelly faded from view over the back nine at Nudgee Golf Club in Brisbane, a pack of potential champions jostled for top spot on the leaderboard.
Queenslander Lawry Flynn went out in 5-under 31 to enter the frame, Coffs Harbour product Jack Pountney led by one stroke with four holes to play, rookie Harrison Crowe (66) matched the day’s best score to post 8-under in the clubhouse and reigning Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit winner David Micheluzzi gave himself a 10-foot putt for birdie on the final hole to match Campbell’s 9-under total.
Micheluzzi’s putt took a piece of the left side of the hole as it slipped by, leaving Campbell to create history as the first amateur winner of the Queensland PGA Championship.
And it was a 7-iron with a jolt of extra adrenaline that got it done.
“I knew the 7-iron was a good club,” Campbell said of his tee shot on the par-3 18th that was playing 164 metres.
“Walking up there, it was never going to be anything other than that.
“I said to Ben, my caddie, on the tee, we were talking about line and I said, ‘I’m going dead at it. Let’s have a crack.’
“I was a little bit amped up. It definitely went a bit further but it was good to come back and have a crack at the putt.”
Three strokes in front as he teed off in driving rain on Sunday morning, Kelly missed a short putt for par at the first hole to set an ominous tone for the round.
A double-bogey at the par-4 14th would be the fatal blow, leaving the stage for a host of contenders to step into the spotlight.
A Monday qualifier who builds concrete pools when he’s not playing golf, Pountney made eagle on five and birdie on seven to stake his claim.
He showed no signs of nerves until his tee shot on 17 drifted left on the wind, finding the penalty area left of the fairway. He failed to get up-and-down from left of the green and then missed a long-range birdie try on 18.
Micheluzzi was left to rue a couple of short putts that lipped out while Kiwi Nick Voke three-putted for par at the par-5 15th and then made bogey on 16 to also fall one shy.
Not selected in the 13-strong Australian contingent that played the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship a week ago, Campbell admitted that he drew inspiration from Jasper Stubbs’ thrilling playoff win at Royal Melbourne.
“It was awesome for Jasper to get up last week but it kind of brought home that’s anything possible and I can give myself a chance if I play well,” said Campbell, who became the first amateur winner of the Queensland PGA in the tournament’s 97-year history.
“For him to go and do what he did, definitely motivated me to bring my game this week.”
A member of the Golf Australia High Performance Squad the past two years, Campbell will now sit down and decide whether to turn professional and make immediate use of the winner’s category now at his disposal.
“I’m definitely leaning towards turning pro,” said Campbell, who won the Riversdale Cup earlier this year.
“With winner’s category now it’s definitely heading that way.
“I’ll talk to my team, see what they say, what they recommend and we’ll take it from there.”
With Campbell ineligible for the winner’s prize money, the seven players who finished second each earned $18,085.71 while Kiwi Kazuma Kobori banked $6,070.83 for his tie for ninth in his first start as a professional.
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