Queenslander Jake McLeod has broken through for his first professional victory, winning the 2018 AVJennings New South Wales Open.
Starting the day with a four-shot lead, a nervous McLeod watched that disappear across the front nine before an eagle on the par-5 11th hole helped ensure the win.
Heading to the 18th tee with a two-shot lead, McLeod played it safe and recorded a two-putt par to win the title with rounds of 67, 68, 62 and 71 for a tournament total of 20-under 268.
“It was tough out there today. I started pretty average, but sort of hung in there on those par 5s on the front nine and that eagle on the 11th hole was huge,” McLeod said.
“I had a perfect yardage for my 3-wood and hit a great shot to about 12 feet and holed the putt down the hill. I was pretty stoked, but I think the putt on 13 to save par was just as good.”
While the winning margin seemed comfortable in the end, McLeod did have to hold off Victorian Cameron John, who made a charge for the title before recording back-to-back bogeys to finish in second place.
“I heard in the last couple of holes he (John) got it to 20-under and I got a bit nervous then. I thought he must have been playing really well because it wasn’t easy out there today,” McLeod added.
“I was definitely nervous, but a lot less than I thought I would be. That shot into the last was pretty scary over the water, but I got away with it. I was just happy to get it done in the end.”
Speechless after his round, McLeod walks away with the winner’s prize cheque of $72,000, Official World Golf Ranking points and full status on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2020 season.
But more importantly, McLeod now has the belief in his ability to close out tournaments after coming close in the past.
“I’m pretty stoked. I’ve got no words at the moment but it feels pretty good. Hopefully, I can win a few more,” McLeod said.
“I just think when I’m in contention more often I’ll be able to come back to this situation knowing I’ve done it before and will hopefully be able to do it again. Hopefully, that will be in an Aussie Open or PGA in the next few weeks.
“It is exhausting. I’m looking forward to the Aussie Open next week, then a week off before the PGA. I played pretty well at both last year and I’m looking to do the same thing.”
Rookie professional John finished as the runner-up on 18-under the card after a valiant final round where he fired a five-under 67.
New South Welshman Blake Windred claimed low amateur honours after he finished tied for third alongside Dylan Perry and Josh Younger at 15-under.
A shot further back in a tie for sixth were David McKenzie (VIC), Jordan Mullaney (NSW) and Douglas Klein (QLD), who has played his way into this week’s Emirates Australian Open.
Also earning a place in his national open thanks to finishing ninth this week is Queenslander Blake Proverbs, who rounded out the top-10 on 13-under the card alongside Dimi Papadatos (NSW) and Harrison Endycott (NSW).
McLeod has moved to fourth place on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit. For final results from the NSW Open and the full Order of Merit standings, visit pga.org.au