16 Jan 2022 | Professional golf |
The PGA: Morgan lays waste to field ... and tournament history
by PGA of Australia
By Tony Webeck
If you squinted just slightly into the fading Queensland summer sun on Sunday afternoon you could be forgiven for mistaking Jed Morgan for Aussie tennis champion Lleyton Hewitt.
Tap into the soundtrack of his record-breaking final round of the 2021 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club and you’d be all but convinced.
He may not have reached the 25-under target that he and coach Grant Field discussed on Sunday morning but Morgan did what he vowed when he led by nine through three rounds; he won going away.
His final round of two-under 69 and 11-stroke winning margin set a new mark in dominance in one of Australia’s most treasured and time-honoured championships.
Greg Norman (1984 and 1985) and Hale Irwin (1978) owned the prior record of eight-shot winning margins but they must now bow down to a 22-year-old who harnessed the energy of his home-club crowd and took it up a notch.
“Let’s go!” he roared when he made birdie from the sand at the par-5 ninth.
“Yeah!” after holing a 20-footer to save par following a drop from the penalty area at 15.
“Yeah, baby!” when his tee shot into the penultimate hole, the party hole 17th no less, looked on line all the way.
There were fist pumps and finger raises and while we didn’t get a Lleyton-like “Come on!”, we did see a rewriting of history and the birth of a new star in Australian golf.
The records that fell by the wayside as Morgan collected the Joe Kirkwood Cup were many and varied:
• 11-stroke winning margin: Greatest in Australian PGA Championship history, previously eight strokes held by Greg Norman (1984 and 1985) and Hale Irwin (1978)
• 22-under par total: Equal-lowest score in relation to par in championship history (joining Nick O’Hern and Peter Lonard in 2006)
• 262 four-round total: Lowest in championship history (previous record 266 set by Nick O’Hern and Peter Lonard in 2006)
• 22 years, one month, 18 days: Youngest winner in history of Australian PGA stroke play championship (previous record held by David Howell at 23 years and five months in 1998).
• Youngest winner in championship history since Alan Murray in 1961 (21 years, 5 months, 17 days) Playing in just his fourth event since turning professional in October, Morgan is now all but assured of a DP World Tour card at year’s end, his PGA triumph alone bringing with it three DP World Tour starts in July and August this year.
There’s the cheque for $180,000 that alleviates any of the initial financial pressures that come as young players find their way but the reality is that at the start of the week, Morgan just wanted to play all four days.
“I wanted to just make the cut this week,” he admitted. “I know that’s a low kind of shot to shoot at, but it was all reality.
“I felt a lot of pressure, especially on myself, obviously being a member here and having won the (2020) Australian Amateur here and stuff.
“I missed a couple of Tour Schools in the US towards the end of my trip and come back a little bit with my tail between my legs.
“I’d never imagine this happening to be honest with you.”
Encouraged by his coach to stay true to his personality and express whatever emotions he was feeling, the confident, let’s-get-some attitude belied a swirling mix of nervous energy bubbling beneath the surface.
“I’ve been feeling sick for like three days, especially after I was leading after two rounds,” said Morgan, who shot to the lead on day two with a course record eight-under 63 and was never headed.
“I thought, There’s no way back from there. I tried to press as hard as I could and tried to keep pushing it. It’s been amazing what’s happened.
“I’m glad it’s over. Whether I won or lost, I’m just glad it’s over because I’ve been in all sorts, for sure.
“I’ve never had that type of emotion. I’ve felt pressure for sure, but I’ve never felt pressure like the way I felt it this week. It was something.
“I want to do it again. Obviously, there’s a couple of things I’d do a bit different, just try not to feel that way, but you can’t help most of it.”
Sunday’s final grouping was notable for the fact that the two combatants both hail from the Lockyer Valley an hour west of Brisbane, runner-up Andrew Dodt growing up 200 metres from the Gatton Golf Club while 15 minutes down the road Morgan’s parents were running the Hatton Vale golf course and Fairways Tavern.
He plays like a young Greg Norman and fist pumps like little Lleyton but we’ll soon come to understand that there is no one quite like Jed Morgan.
“The best thing I’ve done this week is just be myself for the first time in a long time on the golf course,” he admitted.
“I was just glad that it was at home and I was able to do it in a manner that was pretty exciting for other people hopefully as well.
“I can’t wait to do it many more times.”
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