New South Wales has taken out the 2023 Interstate Teams Matches with a superb showing on the final day at St Michael’s Golf Club in Sydney.
Sent out in the final matches of the round-robin stage against the undefeated South Australians in the morning, the home team had the early advantage and ran with it rather than relying on other results going their way.
With Queensland the other potential finallist going down to Victoria in the morning session, the New South Wales side pressed ahead to a 6-2 win, with Harrison Crowe’s 2-up win secured on the 18th over good friend Jack Buchanan ensuring his state would claim both the men’s and women’s titles.
South Australia and NSW went head-to-head for a second time in the same day to decide the overall champions.
It was a case of more of the same in the afternoon when NSW found themselves up in six matches and square in the other two in the early stages, with Declan O’Donovan 4 up through seven holes the standout.
O’Donovan, from Avondale Golf Club, kept up that pace against Kade Bryant to secure the first point of the final for NSW, his 4&3 win coming as all his teammates battled away in tight matches bar Crowe in the final match.
Once again facing Buchanan, the St Michael’s member was 4 up through 11 holes and would win his match on the 14th green after a run that included seven birdies and an eagle.
“I felt great, he felt great and then I just went on a little bit of a tear. I was nine-[under] through 14 and he was probably four or five-[under], it was tough golf to beat,” Crowe said.
With Crowe and O’Donovan’s points on the board, the South Australian women started to launch a fightback led by Reagan Denton in the first match out. The Royal Adelaide member eventually accounting for Rachel Lee 3&1.
Matilda Miels and Caitlin Pierce were also doing their bit, however Amelia Whinney ran into a freight train in the form of the only undefeated player for the week Annika Rathbone, who claimed a 5&4 victory.
That left it to the NSW men to try and get things done early and Jeffrey Guan and men’s captain Jye Pickin stepped up to the plate.
Having missed a chance to go 3-up with a short putt at the 13th in his match against Sam Earl, Guan was gifted a golden chance at the downhill par-4 16th when Earl missed the green long left with his approach.
The Vines member chipped onto the edge of the green and after Guan lagged his birdie try close, the match was over when Earl couldn’t match his 4 and succumbed 3&2.
That sent the players not still in action scrambling one hole ahead to Pickin’s match with Kyle Hayter, which would provide the winning point.
After taking a drop for an unplayable lie and battling his way down the par-5 17th as Pickin played the hole clinically to lie three on the green, Hayter conceded the hole, match and Interstate title to Pickin and NSW.
“It’s definitely a highlight for me. Awesome to be a part of and to hole those winning putts coming down the stretch is an awesome feeling and why we play golf,” Pickin said.
“Definitely some goosebumps coming down the last and see the team at the back of the green.”
With the final decided once NSW had five points, the remaining matches were called as halves between June Song and Miels as well as Pierce and NSW women’s captain Belinda Ji for a 6-2 scoreline.
“We all said coming into this week that we want to be one team, and I think we have done a really good job of that,” Ji said. “We back ourselves and back each other and it paid off, so we are very happy.”
Winning at home in front of family and friends clearly added to the experience for the entirety of the 10 NSW players, including Daley Loumanis and Charlotte Perkins who sat out the final. However, it is hard to argue that it meant the most for Crowe, who is nearing the end of a glittering amateur career.
“We’ve had a few cracks at it, well I’ve had a few cracks at it, and it is probably going to be my last one, so to go out like this is pretty cool. Home state, home golf club, couldn’t have asked for a better way,” he said.
“It’s up there [with individual wins] for sure. Just this team environment is amazing. To have the individual women’s and individual men’s is ‘sick’.”
A celebration involving “having some cake”, according to Pickin, was in order after NSW claimed a first win in the event since it became a combined format and first victories at all since the 2019 women’s team at Royal Hobart and the 2016 men that triumphed at Brisbane Golf Club.