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Ireland's Purcell survives epic battle to win Aust Am

Hong (left) and Purcell (right). Winners of the 2019 Australian Amateur Championship. (Photo: Golf Australia - Kirsty Wrice )
Ireland’s Conor Purcell is the 2019 Australian Amateur Champion following a gripping victory over Australian Nathan Barbieri in today’s final at the Woodlands Golf Club in Melbourne, becoming the first Irishman in the lengthy history of the event to win the title.

Barbieri however can hold his head up high after coming from 4 down through 26 holes to square the match at the last and force the contest into extra time.

With the match all square through 18 of the 36 holes, Barbieri went 1 up after one hole of the afternoon round but Conor was quickly back on terms at the next and then began to establish an ascendency winning four of the next six to go 4 up through 26 holes.

Barbieri however fought his way back with wins at the next two holes and when he won the 30th there was just one the difference with six to play.

A crucial moment would come at the 33rd hole hole however both players having found the fairway at the par five but when Barbieri pulled his second he found a sandy area well left of the green and took bogey.

It opened the door for Conor to establish a near winning break which he did and at 2 up with three to play Barbieri's brave bid for the title appeared under real threat.

Barbieri was not done with yet however. Both players parred the 34th but with his back against the wall Barbieri hit a brilliant tee shot at the 35th to three or four feet to grab one back and headed to the last 1 down.

It would be the Irishman who would make a mistake at the 36th however when missing the fairway and the green and with the match in extra time Conor found the green at the first extra hole while Barbieri missed and could not save par.

Dubliner, Purcell, a former Ireland junior champion in tennis, has a golfing pedigree with his father being a former professional golfer at one of Ireland’s famed golfing layouts, Portmanock.

He had a fine season in European amateur events in 2018 including a 3rd place finish at the Amateur Championship and when runner-up at the Scottish Men’s Open Amateur.

This victory will move him considerably in World Amateur rankings from his current 104th position and continue his upward spiral towards the elite of amateur golf.

For Barbieri he can hold his head up high having not only reached the final but having being part of a stirling contest today.  

In the Women’s final 16 year old Korean Yae Eun Hong defeated Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani to become the third Korean in the last four years to take the coveted title after leading by one hole at lunch.

Yae Eun slowly but surely extended that lead throughout the afternoon and by the time they reached the 33rd hole she was 3 up with three to play and closed out the match at the 34th.


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