Kennedy wins in a playoff
- Sunday, 4 December 2011
Queensland professional Brad Kennedy grabbed the biggest win of his career when he made a clutch birdie putt on the first extra hole to win the BMW New Zealand Open in Christchurch today.
It was an unlikely victory for the overnight leader who trailled 2002 Open champion Craig Parry by two shots with two holes to play.
The 37-year-old Kennedy made a miracle up-and-down on the 17th before Parry imploded when he hit his drive on the last into the water and finished with a double bogey.
New Zealand hope Josh Geary, hanging in on the back of brilliant touch on the greens, joined the Australian pair on seven-under par but like Parry, he drove into the water on the 18th, and while he made a valiant effort, his par putt slid by.
Parry was again ragged with his drive on the first extra hole, the 18th, before Kennedy nailed a 5m birdie putt to secure his seventh and biggest win to date.
He shot a final round two-over 74 to finish on seven-under par along with Geary (72) and Parry (69). They finished a shot ahead of Australian Rohan Blizard who shot a one-under 71, with fellow Australians Leigh Deagan and Nicholas Cullen shared fifth place on four-under.
The win caps off an outstanding spell of form for the Australian, who won the Western Australian Open late last year, had four top-10 finishes on the Japan Tour and now capped it with victory at Clearwater.
“To win a New Zealand Open, with all the great names on it and one of the oldest Opens in the world is pretty special to me,” said Kennedy.
“The last 14 months have been great for me with the win at Western Australia, in Japan and now this.“
Kennedy, who led throughout, said he never panicked after his three dropped shots on the first nine.
“I tried to stay patient on the back nine. I knew I was around the lead. But when I saw on 14 that Craig had got to nine-under I then became the chaser and I decided to get more aggressive.
“The playoff was great. I didn’t try to two-putt it, I thought do it on your own terms.
“To play against someone like Craig and holing a putt for birdie is fantastic. I backed Craig to make his so I knew I had to make it to win. “
He also felt at home throughout the week.
“I know Christchurch so well. It’s my sixth of seventh time playing the course so I know Clearwater well.”
Kennedy saw his three-shot overnight advantage disappear with three bogeys on the opening nine holes.
Parry, chasing down his 24th career victory and first win since the 2007 Australian Open, made his move with three straight birdies in the middle of his round, taking the lead for the first time on the 11th hole. The championship was his until that drive on the final hole.
Geary, again struggling tee to green, slid back to sixth at one stage before birdies at the 15th and 16th brought him back into contention. After driving into the water on the 18th, Geary played a supreme shot from the rough but his par attempt did not drop, and he had to be content with third placing, his best after sharing fourth place in 2009.
“I am definitely gutted,” said Geary. “What is done is done, you can cry for a few hours but it’s not going to change what happened.
“It was like yesterday. I hit the ball pretty poorly and ended up in some pretty bad spots. But I just stuck in there and my short game was on fire again to keep me in it. I was surprised to have a chance for the playoff and the win.”
Eighteen year old Australian Jack Higginbottom won the Bledisloe Cup for leading amateur, shooting a four-over 76 today to finish on four-over and a share of 22nd place.