Mark Brown has a deserved reputation as one of New Zealand’s best ball strikers, and when he gets the flat stick working, he can foot it with anyone as he showed this week at the Emirates Australian Open.  Brown was rock solid over the weekend with only one bogey in his final 36 holes to finish T6 on -7 in a top class field on the tough Australian GC layout, one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth, and only four  behind winner Cameron Davis.

Meanwhile over in Hong Kong, “never say never” was the motto of the day as Wade Ormsby recorded his maiden European Tour victory at the 264th attempt, in the UBS Hong Kong Open.

Emirates Australian Open

Those who were lucky enough to draw a morning tee time in Round 1 of the Australian Open got a significant advantage over the afternoon players, as Cameron Davis showed by ripping apart the Nicklaus-designed Australian GC course with an opening 63.  Rounds of 72 & 74 then followed, which seemed to rule Davis out of contention as he started the final round six shots behind red hot favourite Jason Day.  However, Day couldn’t get going on Sunday and slipped to a 73, while Davis picked up the six shots and then some with a closing 64, highlighted by an eagle two on the 380 metre par 4 12th hole.

That was good enough for a one shot victory over 2015 champion Matt Jones (NSW), and Jonas Blixt (Sweden). 

Mark Brown more than held his own with a closing 68 to complete an astonishing week with only four bogeys all tournament, three of which came on the Thursday afternoon when conditions were at their worst.  He pocketed $NZ 45,000 for his efforts, lifting his 2017 PGA Tour of Australasia earnings to over $NZ 100k, and leaving him 15th on the Tour’s OOM.

Ben Campbell showed some of his NZ Open form from earlier in the year with a T15 finish on -2, and Michael Hendry had another consistent week with a T24 result on even par, despite a horrendous start to his final round with doubles on 3 & 5.  Hendry was another to cop the wrong end of the draw on Thursday, along with Josh Geary (T56, +6).  Both did well to make the cut, which came in at +2 in the end.  Geary also had post Q School and travel issues to contend with, but fought back well with a final round of 70 after slipping to 77 in Round 3.

The only other New Zealander to make the cut was Luke Toomey (T61, +7), while Harry Bateman (+3), Michael Long and Gareth Paddison (+4), Fraser Wilkin (+5), Kieran Muir (+6), David Smail (+10), Daniel Pearce (+14) and Brad Shilton (+16) all missed out.

Shilton may have had other things on his mind after holing in one on his 2nd hole (the 173 metre 11th), which earned him a $17,000 Tag Heuer watch.  It was the 2nd hole in one in Brad’s professional career, the last one coming in the 2007 Tahiti Open.  He has had four overall, including one at Titirangi earlier in the year.

The players now move to the Gold Coast for the $A 1.5 million Australian PGA Championship at Royal Pines, co-sanctioned with the European Tour.


UBS Hong Kong Open

In a field which included Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Rafa Cabrera Bello & Co, Wade Ormsby would not have been high up the list of most people’s picks.  But as the challengers came and went over the final nine holes, Ormsby found himself standing on the 18th green of Fanling’s composite course with a two shot lead, and a 35 foot putt for birdie.

That lead was promptly cut to one when Cabrera Bello birdied the 17th behind Ormsby, and then to none when Wade then proceeded to three putt.  However, the notorious 18th, which features a sharp dog leg and then a carry over water to the ultimate sucker pin, claimed another victim when Cabrera Bello found the greenside bunker and couldn’t get up and down, leaving Ormsby the winner by one.

It was certainly a fitting reward for the 37 year old’s dedication to the Tour over many years, if nothing else, but Ormsby who was on the cusp of losing his card for much of 2017, has now secured his future and can look forward to a stress free 2018 season.

Further down the field, Miguel Angel Jimenez showed he still has plenty of game at this level, touring Fanling in 63 shots in his final round.