10 January 2019
Sahith Theegala was in complete control all week at the Victoria Golf Club, and he took a 5-shot lead into the final round of the Australian Master of the Amateurs.
Then Friday’s front nine happened.
After a birdie on No. 1 extended Theegala’s lead to six, he and the rest of the group struggled as heavy winds swept through the area.
“It was incredible,” said tournament manager Geoffrey Mann. “The gale force winds made the first nine holes a real challenge, so even getting par on some of the holes was impressive. Especially as the winds made the greens rock hard and fast, with pin positions in hard locations.”
Coming off a tournament low 64, Jack Thompson made three bogeys and shot 39 on the front. And the other Jack in the group (Buchanan) had even more trouble, starting bogey-triple-bogey en route to a front nine of 42.
So when Theegala posted two doubles and three bogeys to get to 6-over after seven holes, the only question was could he settle down, and would anyone from another group make a charge.
He answered the first question by going eagle-birdie on Nos. 8 and 9 to finish at 39. After his run in the middle of the front nine, that must have felt like a victory. And for the rest of the day he held off competitors with 8-straight pars. Theegala enjoyed a two stroke lead heading into No. 18, and secured the victory on the par-5 with a bogey.
Jang Hyun Lee (South Korea) was the runner up in second place with six-under, with a current world ranking of 178. The leading Australian, Jack Thompson, finished third with a five-under, with a current world ranking of 74. Ren Yonezawa (Japan) and Yuta Sugiura (Japan) embraced these conditions and moved up the leader board, to equally finish fourth in the championship.