Crowe Swoops for Life-Changing Victory at AAC

Harrison Crowe receives the AAC trophy from APGC Chairman Taimur Hassan Amin as APGC Director Nicki Hirayama and Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley look on. Picture by AAC.

Chonburi, Thailand: Harrison Crowe produced a masterful back nine to edge out China’s Jin Bo by one shot and claim victory in the 2022 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC).

Crowe is the third Australian player to win the AAC trophy and will have the opportunity to defend his title when the championship returns to Royal Melbourne next year.

At Amata Spring Country Club, Crowe, 43rd in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was three shots behind Jin when he made the turn at three-over par. However, four birdies in five holes on the back nine and a heroic up and down for par from the back of the 18th green helped him to a level-par 72 and a one-shot victory.

Japan’s Ryuta Suzuki (73) and Crowe’s compatriot Jeff Guan (69) tied for third place at nine-under.

Pongsapak Laopakdee (72) was the leading Thai player, tied fifth at eight-under, alongside three Japanese players – Masato Sumiuchi (69), Leo Oyo (70), Minato Oshima (70) – as well as Philippines’ Carl Corpus (68) and Korean Song Min-hyuk (75).

“I certainly had to dig deep. At the turn, I told my dad and his mate, that I just needed one to go in, just one to drop, and from there I backed myself to keep it going. I had not had a birdie all day, and the one on 11 got my momentum going forward,” said Crowe, who turned 21 on October 15.

Jin (71) started the day two behind Crowe but caught up early with an approach to tap-in distance for a birdie on the first hole as the Australian slipped to an opening bogey.

Jin looked to be in a strong position after a spectacular eagle from the bunker at the back of the par-four 12th hole but Crowe holed out for a birdie to stay three behind. The Sydneysider pulled level when he made his fourth birdie in five holes on the par-five 15th.

Crowe missed the 16th green with his approach which cost him a dropped shot and a share of the lead.

The iconic par-three 17th with its island green proved to be crucial in deciding the outcome of the championship. Jin’s tee shot to the 129-yard hole came up short in the water and he could only manage a double-bogey five.

Crowe enjoyed a one-shot lead on the 18th tee but there was more drama to come when, after a perfect tee shot that left him with a 181-yard approach, Crowe pulled his second shot and almost found the water. His ball stayed dry and he made a difficult up-and-down for his all-important par.

“I think it was going to go in the water. I pulled it, but I flushed it. So, I thought I had plenty on, but I was hoping that it caught a bit of grass,” Crowe added.

The victory means Crowe receives invitations to the 2023 Masters and The 151st Open.

“It means so much. I played a lot of really good golf early in the season, but towards the middle of the year when I travelled overseas, I didn’t play very good golf at all. So, I came out here this week with something to prove, and I’m really proud of myself the way I handled myself on and off the course,” said Crowe.

Jin, who was hoping to add another AAC trophy to his family cabinet alongside the one won by his brother Cheng in 2015, managed to retain his smile after the disappointing finish.

“This is not the position I wanted to be in but I am very proud of the way I played this week. You can’t take anything away from Crowe and the way he played the back nine,” said Jin, who finished tied-eighth in 2019 and tied-third last year in Dubai.

“I have another year in college so if they invite me back, I am definitely coming to Melbourne next year and try this all over again. Hopefully, I will finish one position better.”

Thai Sarut Vongchaisit made the first albatross in the history of the AAC when he holed his second shot on the 584-yard, par-five second hole.

“I had 250 yards to the hole and it was a perfect hybrid club, wind right‑to‑left and with a perfect angle to hit to that pin. I didn’t know it went in. I thought it could be long. I didn’t know I made it until I actually saw the ball in the hole. I was shocked,” said Sarut, who closed with a two-under 70.

Local hero Ratchanon ‘TK’ Chantananuwat, the highest-ranked player in the field, mounted a serious charge when he made six birdies in eight holes around the turn but closed with two bogeys and a double-bogey for a round of 71.

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