Queenstown, New Zealand: A stunning closing 62 has seen Australian Daniel Nisbet become the 99th winner of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.
The Queenslander ran down compatriot Terry Pilkadaris’ five-shot overnight lead with an eagle and four straight birdies on the back nine to finish on 27-under.
Nisbet’s four-round 258 total saw him break the tournament low score (26-under) set by Kel Nagle in 1964.
“We have some great family ties with Kel Nagle. One of my neighbours who recently passed was a great friend with Kel and they kept him updated with my very junior golf. It is a surreal thing to be put up against him and beat his record when there is so much extended family history with him,” Nisbet said.
“I’ve been aggressive all week so I just wanted to stay aggressive and attack the pins and I just wanted to hole a few more putts.”
Nisbet had eaten into Pilkadaris’ buffer over the first nine holes, but it looked as if he was starting to run out of time to haul him in.
An eagle on the 460-metre par-five 10th hole for the second time in as many rounds helped Nisbet to a share of the lead, before a blistering four-birdie finish secured him the Brodie Breeze trophy and a rousing round of applause from the crowd surrounding Millbrook Resort’s island 18th green.
That applause has not been heard a lot in the decade since Nisbet won the Australian schoolboys title, with just one professional win to the 27-year-old’s name.
“I get that question a little bit – you know, where have you been for a few years?” he said.
“I played really well this week, I played really well two weeks prior as well. What this leads to in the future, I don’t know. My coach, Richard Woodhouse, my wife Ashley, she does all my training for me, all my programmes – we just want to keep doing the same thing, it’s working at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get a few more starts out of this win and try and replicate it.”
Nisbet collected A$191,000 for the biggest win of his career, as well as three guaranteed starts on the Japan Tour, the rest of this season and the next on the Asian Tour and through until the end of 2020 on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia.
Pilkadaris began the day hoping to break a 13-year winning drought which had included six runner-up finishes.
Having dined out on a birdie buffet for most of the week, he had to wait until the 11th hole before he recorded his first red number and then was helpless to stop Nisbet from running away from him over the final four holes, finishing in second place at 25-under.
“I didn’t make enough birdies, it’s as simple as that. I didn’t make any mistakes, just didn’t hole the 10-footers that I had been making,” Pilkadaris, who wasn’t troubled by the bad stomach which had affected him on Saturday, said.
“It’s disappointing not to win, but 62 to beat you, it’s one of those things. On a five-shot lead, you know with good weather conditions that someone is going to go low. I thought I plotted my way around the course really well, gave myself the chances, I just didn’t hole the putts.”
Asian Tour player Jarin Todd, of the United States, finished third on 22-under, while rookie professional Nick Voke was the leading New Zealander, a final round 66 seeing him finish in a tie for seventh.
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