02 Apr 2023 | Professional golf |
Power Horan wins two-man duel at The National
by Martin Blake
Tom Power Horan capped the best year of his career with an ace and a victory in The National Tournament presented by BMW on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula today.
Melbourne’s Power Horan, 30, knocked a 9-iron into the hole on the 146-metre, par-3 eighth hole at the Moonah course to send a message to the rest of the field that he would not be hunted down from his position as 54-hole leader.
Ultimately he won by just a single shot at 19-under par from his playing partner John Lyras at 18-under, both men carding final-round 67s and providing some incredible highlights to close out the season on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
It is the second win of a groundbreaking season for Power Horan, who also won in Gippsland before Christmas and who now has DP World Tour playing rights as a result of finishing second on the Order of Merit.
Lyras had to be content with another near-miss and the likelihood that the result with vault him into the top-five in the Order of Merit, giving him access to the Korn Ferry Tour’s tour school final stage later this year. He will also head to Asia this year where both he and Horan have playing rights.
Young gun Elvis Smylie finished outright third at 16-under par after another impressive day today, at one point making five straight birdies in his 68.
But it was a two-man duel at the top that Power Horan called “a bit crazy”, staged between two of the best and most consistent players on the tour in 2022-23.
Lyras immediately birdied the first hole to tie the lead, then the Victorian chipped in for eagle at the second to regain it momentarily, only to see Lyras hole out for eagle himself from close range.
At the third, they both hit their approaches to within a metre of the flagstick as they drove each other to some of the best golf of the season.
The Moonah course was benign without any wind and scoring was low all day.
“I knew he (Lyras) had a low number in him. He’s been playing great. It was good fun to be a part of,” said Power Horan.
The ace at the eighth hole was a thunderclap for Power Horan, his seventh career hole-in-one celebrated when he handed the ball to his mother Esther, who was walking with him today. Purely struck, it bounced twice and trickled into the cup.
“I haven’t had one in like five years, so it’s been a bit of a drought,” he said. Power Horan previously won the Gippsland Super 6 this season and he finished second on the ISPS HANDA PGA tour of Australasia’s Order of Merit, which carries the carrot of a DP World Tour card for those who are in the top-three.
He also has gained Asian Tour status, a surge that he credits new coach Brad Hughes for inspiring.
Today he was completing his 11th tournament in the past 12 weeks, an extraordinary feat of endurance, and while he has next week off, he will be playing on the Asian Tour in Vietnam the week after that.
Down the track, he plans on using his Order Of Merit exemption into the final stage of Korn Ferry Tour in the United States.
“That’s always been a dream,” he said of the chances of his playing in America. “I mean Europe’s amazing as well. I mean, my parents are Irish, I’m looking forward to playing a bit more over near my family. But for sure, the States is the place to be, I think.”
Power Horan had to fight off an amazing early charge by Lyras, who was 4-under par for the first three holes before a lull in the middle of the round.
As late in the day as the 17th hole the 26-year-old Sydney player made a miraculous up-and-down from trouble left of the par-3 17th green to stay within two shots, but his tee shot again sailed left at the 18th and he could only manage a par when he needed birdie.
“I’m proud, it’s the first time I shot four rounds in the 60s in a tournament,” said Lyras.
Power Horan, meanwhile, flared his second shot from the 18th fairway into deep rough and made bogey. But it was enough in the end, his scores of 68-68-66-67 testament to some brilliant ball-striking this week.
Order of Merit winner David Micheluzzi rattled home with a typically belligerent 64 to finish tied-fourth and complete a wonderful season at home. Result
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