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Higginbottom victorious in NSW Am Final

(Photo: Anthony Powter)
Jake Higginbottom has accounted for England's, Tommy Fleetwood, in the NSW Amateur Championship final with a 3&2 victory today at Royal Sydney Golf Club. Higginbottom, 16, powered to his biggest amateur career title so far with a stellar display of golf, moving at one stage to be five-up with nine to play in the afternoon session of the final, through a peerless display of putting that effectively shut out Fleetwood from the championship. Fleetwood on paper going into today's final had all the goods and certainly started as the favourite. A Walker Cup representative for Great Britain and Ireland in 2009, in 2008 Fleetwood was a finalist at the British Amateur Championship, loosing, 3&2, to Reiner Saxton from the Netherlands at Turnberry, won the 2009 Scottish Open Amateur and was a quarter-finalist at last year's British Amateur. At the turn Fleetwood was 1-down after the morning's eighteen holes and mounted a min-challenge late in the afternoon session to get to three-down by the 33rd hole, yet it was all in vein for the Englishman, with Higginbottom claiming the title on the 34th hole when they both halved the hole. Higginbottom had approached his first major amateur title final this morning with an open mind, knowing that he was against one of the world's seasoned amateurs in Fleetwood. "I went out there with no expectations," remarked Higginbottom after his victory. "I was putting and striking to the ball well, so it all came together for me. This is easily my best win." Higginbottom's progression to his first major amateur championship final came after winning yesterday's quarter-final match against Alex Pitty on the 19th and then followed that with a solid 4&3 semi-final win in the afternoon over Long Reef's, Patrick Wilson. Originally from the Newcastle region, Higginbottom plays out of The Australian Golf Club in Sydney under an Australian Golf Club Foundation Scholarship. Higginbottom originally honed his game under the watchful eye of Mark Rainey, the professional at Charlestown Golf Club just south of Newcastle, where Higginbottom still remains a member. "I owe a lot from Mark's guidance and help," says Higginbottom. "Mark and I have been working hard with my game over the last few months, especially with my chipping and putting. Coming to Sydney to play at The Australian has also been a great experience, as its a tough course to play and I've learnt so much from the experience. Higginbottom's best international result before today's victory was a runner-up finish at the 2009 Aaron Baddeley International Junior. As a 15-year-old Higginbottom qualified for the NSW Open and in 2006 he won his age group in all 25 Jack Newton Junior tournaments he played. "This is probably my second year out with playing golf seriously," says Higginbottom. "I want to make more Australian teams moving forward. I played in the Trans-Tasman and enjoyed every bit. My goals as to try and get into more national teams in the future." The signs of a promising amateur career where there early for Higginbottom. At just 13 years-of-age, Higginbottom shot an impressive 8-under-par 64 around Waratah Golf Club to claim the Lake Macquarie Junior Classic. Today's win for Higginbottom against the like of Tommy Fleetwood certainly represented another feather in Higginbottom's cap. The win was richly deserved and sets Higginbottom up, not only with at start at this year's British Amateur, but the victory also sends a message that this 16-year-old is a name to watch in the future.

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