The innovative tournament, which sees men and women play in alternate groups for the same prizemoney, once again delivered an exciting final round at the 13th beach complex on Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula.
Lee, the highest ranked player in the women’s field, was the favourite to take out the title for a second time after starting the day with a four-shot lead.
A birdie at the third and an eagle at the par-5 fifth, after rifling a fairway wood to almost kick-in range, all but sealed the tournament despite gallant efforts by her closest challengers Hannah green and rookie Karis Davidson.
While Lee was never really troubled the men’s event was the polar opposite as several players battled for the lead all day.
Hawkes, a little-known professional from Tasmania, had the lead at the start after a course record equalling 64 on Saturday.
With little in the way of experienced players around him the day promised to be a dog fight and that’s exactly what transpired.
Calmer conditions meant the Beach Course was vulnerable to low scoring and several players charged early.
First was former NSW Open winner Ben Eccles who was out early and reeled of four birdies on his way to the turn followed by back to back gains to begin the journey home.
A seventh of the day at the 72nd set the clubhouse target at 10-under though it was clear early that wouldn’t hold up.
Cory Crawford, and 36-hole leader Anthony Quayle both inched forward on the leaderboard but by late in the back nine it was a race between two with Endycott the early starter applying the pressure.
He went to the turn 4-under and made a fifth of the day at the short par-4 15th. A brilliant par save at the par-3 17th kept his momentum going and a final effort at the par-5 finishing hole set the mark at 14-under.
MINJEE LEE CELEBRATES HER SECOND VIC OPEN TITLE (PHOTO PAUL SHIRE)
Hawkes, though, held tough. He, too, made birdie at 15 then also made an impressive two putt par from 80 feet at the 17th before finding the green in two at the last.
His birdie forced extra time and an up and down from the greenside bunker at the first extra hole sealed the deal after Endycott ran his birdie attempt long.
“It still hasn’t sunk in,” he said, running his eyes over the names on the trophy. “It’s great!”
Hawkes has played 10 events in his four years as a member of the PGA Tour of Australasia and is undoubtedly a surprise winner.
SIMON HAWKES HOLES THE WINING PUTT AT 13TH BEACH (PHOTO PAUL SHIRE)
Few had heard of him prior to his 64 Saturday though with a spot in the field for next week’s Perth Super 6 tournament now he is keen to continue his run of form.
“Now my mind’s flicking to Perth….I could go back to back,” he said, almost shocked himself by the notion.
“I thought I could win this week and I’ve done it so there’s no reason I can’t go back to back in Perth.
“It’s a big thing to say but…”
For runner-up Endycott it was no doubt bitterly disappointing though even in the moments after the playoff he could see the positives.
“Obviously a little bit disappointed but I played so well this week,” he said.
“Huge congrats to Simon, that was a great putt he made up the last. And that’s just golf.
“I’m going to try to put myself in these positions as many times as I can and wins will happen but I’m still a baby to the professional ranks so I’ve got a lot of learning to do and I learnt a lot this week.”
Endycott recently secured playing rights on the PGA Tour Latin America and will take plenty of confidence form this performance into the rest of the year.
“Bogey free, six birdies today was awesome,” he said. “Like I said, I learnt a lot in that round and a lot this week.
“I’m very, very pleased with my overall week.”
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