Australian Matthew Griffin has claimed the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open with a clutch birdie on the final hole of the tournament.
Starting the day two shots behind Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, Griffin opened his final round by eagling the first.
With nerves settled, Griffin went head to head with Tanihara all day but found himself one behind his competitor with three holes to play.
A clutch birdie at the last, where Tanihara made bogey, saw Griffin claim the title and his sixth win as a Professional in New Zealand’s premier golf tournament.
Griffin fired 5-under 67 in the final round to post a winning total of 20-under 267 in front of his parents who had travelled overseas to watch him play for the first time.
Hideto Tanihara was disappointed to have ended his campaign with a bogey, but overall enjoyed his first trip to Queenstown.
Finishing tied for third and six shots off the lead was leading New Zealander Michael Hendry and Japan’s Shunsuke Sonoda.
Prime Minister John Key and Ricky Ponting during the final round of the 2016 BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, The Hills, Arrowtown, New Zealand.13 March 2016. Photo by Michael Thomas/www.photosport.nz
Yoshinori Fujimoto (JPN) finished outright 5th on 13-under 274 with Steven Alker (NZL) a further shot back.
Rounding out the top-10 on 11-under the card are Australians Deyen Lawson, Todd Sinnott, Matthew Giles and Rory Bourke.
Taking out the pro-am component of the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open were Deyen Lawson and his amateur partner Anton Booy. Daniel Hillier finsihed as low amateur.
For his win, Griffin picks up NZ$180,000 which provides him with the top billing on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.
In the ANZ Celebrity Challenge, Australia beat New Zealand convincingly by 20 to 12, but Kiwi spirits weren’t dampened by the end result.
Playing on the last day in place of ANZ Celebrity Challenge team member Shane Cortese, Prime Minister John Key – up against scratch Australian player Ricky Ponting – said he’d had a great time at what he called an “amazing” tournament.
“I love the atmosphere, the crowd really enjoys it, and it’s great to be part of an event that showcases New Zealand to the world,” he said.
“I’m really surprised Ricky Ponting’s not in with the pros! He very rarely makes a mistake.”
Winning Australian team captain Allan Border described his team’s success as “a very popular win”.
“These are absolutely awesome golf courses and it’s the best week you can have playing golf,” he said. “I had one of those freak days when it all came together on the right day and yes, we’ll be back.”
Challenge players included Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum, Justin Marshall, Shane Cortese, Border, Ponting, Glenn Robbins and Ivan Cleary.
The BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.