New South Welshman Blake Windred has thrown the monkey off his back and claimed his maiden professional victory at the Victorian PGA Championship at Moonah Links today.
The 24-year-old shot a three-under par final round of 69 on the Open Course to finish twelve-under for the tournament and one stroke clear of playing partner Brad Kennedy.
It was a moment to savour for the European Challenge Tour player who described achieving one of his lifelong ambitions as “unreal”.
“I’m so pleased with not necessarily how I played, but how I got it done,” he said.
“It is one goal that I’ve had on my mirror for the last couple of years. I just haven’t been able to tick off the first professional win.
“To be honest, I was thinking about it with three holes to go. I was thinking about ticking that off. I was trying to stay in the moment but it’s very hard not to think about such a big thing.”
Windred began thinking about victory because of a chip-in eagle on the par-4 14th followed by a birdie on the par-5 15th which put him two shots ahead of Kennedy.
The captivating contest had been a tight tussle all day but it reached new levels of intensity when the pair stepped up to the 16th tee.
Windred remained cool and calm to blast his tee shot down the middle before Kennedy expressed his frustration as his tee shot sailed right and the gallery began to murmur that the younger man had one hand on the trophy.
The spectators second guessed themselves when Kennedy responded with a cracking second shot to the edge of the green to set up a par, while adrenaline possibly got the better of Windred who sent his approach over the back and made bogey as a result.
Walking to the next tee, Windred managed to reset.
“I said to my caddie Jack ‘what’s the worst that can happen? This is a dream come true. I’ve got a one shot lead, if you said earlier in the day that I had a one shot lead with a few holes to go, I’d definitely take it’,” he said.
Despite his positive attitude, it appeared that Windred might let it slip on the closing two holes.
He had to save par twice to win – first with a monster two-putt on the par-3 17th and then with an up-and-down after scrambling from a fairway bunker on the par-5 18th.
“I’ve had a lot of help from my mind coach John Novak over the years. He’s always told me that whenever the ball is in a poor position or in a bad lie that it’s an opportunity to make something great happen,” he said.
Something great certainly did happen as he rose to the occasion to put his chip close on the 18th and he tapped in to complete victory after Kennedy’s birdie chance did not drop.
“In my career I want to be winning more of these trophies and just being in contention is the best feeling ever. It’s why I practise as hard as I do and make the sacrifices I do,” he said.
“It’s for that feeling of being in contention, under all the lights, and getting it done.”
The day was also special for Queenslander Cory Crawford, 29, and Victorian Cameron John, 22, who both shot seven-under par rounds of 65 to surge into a share of third place.
To cap off Windred’s sensational week, he also won the Victorian Celebrity Amateur Challenge playing alongside Paul Rodney. It was the second time Windred and Rodney have won it – they did so in 2019 – and they finished four shots ahead of Josh Armstrong and former AFL star Brendan Fevola.
Source: Golf Media Australia