WITH a stunning final hole birdie West Australian Lyndsay Stephen has snatched the 2010 Fiducian Legends Australian PGA Championship in a dramatic come from behind victory.
Stephen sunk an 18 foot putt on the 54th hole at the magnificent Killara Golf Club to clinch victory over Jamaican golfer Delroy Cambridge.
The big Jamaician, a multi European Seniors Tour winner, was overnight leader and seemed a certainty until the par four 16th when an uncustomary wayward drive brought the tournament alive.
Cambridge recovered well from deep in the trees to the right, hit a marvellous approach shot but then missed a relatively short putt that resulted in a three stroke turnaround.
The pair went to the par three 17th level pegging and both managed tense pars.
On the 18th Cambridge flushed one straight down the middle while Stephen had a little more distance but was off to the right in the rough.
He appeared to be stymied by a group of tall trees between his ball and the elevated green but hit a great approach with the height and shape to clear the obstacles and land pin high.
“It’s all down to the putting now,” he said to his caddy as he set off up the hill to his ball.
Cambridge was also on for two but had a much longer putt. The pressure, and a windswept green littered with leaves and debris, probably didn’t help and he left his first putt short.
Stephen, who had appeared the much more nervous of the two on the previous green, calmly slotted his ball home and raised his arms in triumph after what had been a never say die effort.
“I am just thrilled,” the 54 year old said after accepting the championship trophy and cheque for $18,000.
“I could see Delroy getting tight coming down the stretch so I had to hang in there.”
The West Australian said he had performed quite well in all the senior events he had played this year with a number of top fives but it had been a big mental challenge getting over the line, particulalry with a national title at stake.
“I drove the ball great all week. On this golf course you have to drive it fantastic. It’s a hell of a test – one of the better courses I’ve played in Sydney. I’m pretty wrapped to have got through and the birdie on the last was an absolute bonus.”
Stephen said he had kept leaving putts short, including his birdie attempt on the 16th.
“Then I got to the 17th and had a long putt and I thought ‘just get it up’ and I hit it about three foot past and I said ‘you idiot’ and had to hole it coming back.
Stephen said he had hit a really good approach shot out of the rough on the 18th and then faced the potential tournament winning putt.
“The putt was there, it was uphill, and I said whatever you do just put a good roll on it and steer it up there.”
“I hit it with perfect pace and it never looked like missing which was great.”
Stephen said he never thought the opportunity was lost, even though Cambridge seemed to be able to pull back strokes whenever he got close.
“I just thought that it is such a golf course this that it is on all the way till the last hole.”
After a first round four-under 68 and having led for much of the championship, the Jamaican was obviously disappointed with the final result.
“I gave myself a chance but I didn’t take it, they don’t come around that often at my age,” Cambridge said.
“It’s a game, somebody has to win and he (Stephen) deserved it, he played well.”
Cambridge will join a big field heading to WA this week for the biggest event on the over 50s Australian professional golf circuit, the Handa Australia Senior Open to be held at the Royal Perth Golf Club from the 19 – 21 November.
The final result on Saturday was Stephen first on 2 under, Cambridge runner-up on even, Michael Harwood 3rd on 1 over, Roger Davis and David Merriman tied for fourth on 2 over, and first round leader Jeff Woodland sixth on 5 over.
CHECK out the extended picture gallery and slideshow of the 2010 Fiducian Legends Senior PGA Championship below.
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