Jordan Zunic has grinded out his third ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia title, clinging on to his third-round lead by the slimmest of margins to win the Isuzu Queensland Open at Brisbane Golf Club.
Standing on the first tee this morning with a five-shot lead, Zunic got off to a flying start with birdies on his opening two holes. That was where the good start ended however, with a run of four bogeys over the next seven holes. He finished his round at two-over 73 for a tournament total of 11-under the card, claiming a one-shot win over Rhein Gibson.
“What a tough day, I got off to a good start with those first two holes but then my putter went cold, I was missing some short ones and the wind picked up a lot as well,” Zunic said. “That was the hardest day we’ve had all week, I wasn’t hitting fairways on certain holes and I had to scramble around this golf course which is very difficult.”
A birdie on the 17th hole got the New South Welshman to 11-under while in front of him Gibson had just checked into the clubhouse at 10-under.
A wayward tee shot on the 18th saw Zunic in the trees to the right of the fairway, forcing him to punch out for his second shot. He chipped onto the green with his third before standing over a 12-foot par putt for the championship.
He drained it and claimed his third professional title on the PGA Tour of Australasia. Zunic also won the New Zealand Open in 2015 and Northern Territory PGA Championship in 2016.
“This one was a little different for me. I lost my grandma a couple of weeks ago and I told my fiancée and caddie, Olivia, this week would be in memory of her. It really means a lot.
“Funnily enough, it was like my own ‘Happy Gilmore’ moment where he was saying ‘Grandma’ over the ball. I literally said to myself going into that par putt that this was for her.”
The hard work was done for Zunic in the third round, his six-under 65 giving him a five-shot cushion that ultimately held up under pressure from the chasing pack.
“I just kept saying to Olivia, ‘I’ve just got to hang on.’ Having that five-shot buffer coming into today was obviously the difference, it allowed me to have a pretty poor day and it allowed me to stay in the tournament,” Zunic added. “Not one point out there did I give up. I just kept telling myself to keep grinding, after the 16th when I made that bogey, I just had to hang in there.
“Even though my putter wasn’t good today it certainly made up for itself on those last two holes. I’m over the moon, I’m glad I got the job done, I’m just exhausted.”
Zunic now has a full card on the PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of 2019, which takes a little pressure off his trip to Spain to attempt to qualify for the European Tour via the final stage of qualifying school.
“It’s such a bonus for me this week because my New Zealand Open winner’s exemption was going to run out at the end of this year, so I had to keep my card this year.
“Missing the New South Wales Open and Australian Open would’ve been a huge hit for me on the moneylist, so winning this week takes care of Australia next year. I can purely focus on Europe next week and hopefully come back with a card. I’ll play the Australian PGA Championship this year, though. I’ve got some unfinished business there,” said the man who lost in extra holes to Cameron Smith at last year’s PGA.
Gibson held second place outright on 10-under with Steven Jeffress third on nine-under. In his first professional event, Doug Klein finished outright fourth on seven-under, Matthew Millar and Adam Blyth shared fifth on six-under. Blake Windred was the highest finishing amateur on five-under.