Jager wins New Zealand Amateur
BY Anthony Powter | New Zealand Mens Amateur Tour | 2009 New Zealand Amateur Championship | Grand Final | 28 Apr 2009
Matt Jager has secured the New Zealand Amateur Championship title with a 6&5 victory over South Africa’s, Nicol Van Wyk, at Titirangi Golf Club in Auckland.
Jager,20, started the morning session with an eagle two on the opening short par 4, 1st, and moved to a commanding lead, at one stage moving to 5-up through 13 holes. A misjudged club selection at the par 4, 384 metre, 16th, which had been Jager’s nemesis during this Championship, and a conceded hole gave Van Wyk a glimmer of hope, as the South African then went onto win the next two holes to be 4-down after the morning’s eighteen holes.
Van Wyk, ranked 83rd in the world, remained a sturdy competitor for Jager notwithstanding yesterday’s brutal semi-final encounter yesterday with Australia’s Scott Arnold, which Van Wyk finally won in fading light on the 21st hole.
“There were no easy holes out there,” remarked Jager about today’s final.
“Nicol just kept hanging in there, but I felt if I continued to play aggressive and grind him down, I would be in with a chance especially after the tough match he had yesterday.”
The strain of playing what was in effect his second final showed on Van Wyk’s face. Despite his marathon efforts 24-hours earlier, he fought to the very end producing some brilliant displays of mid-iron hitting around the tight Titirangi layout. If anything it was Van Wyk’s putter that let him down.
“Obviously I was feeling a little tired out there,” said Van Wyk.
“I felt that I played well and was hitting some good shots especially with my irons, the difference was that my putter wasn’t working like it had yesterday.”
In contrast Jager’s flat stick was on song all day and never left him when putts needed to drop.
The world number eighteen continued to find the back of the cup during critical stages of the final. When a 25-footer dropped in on the 28th hole to move Jager to a 6-up margin with eight to play, the Australian could sense victory was not far away.
Nicol van Wyk Audio Interview
“I probably putted the best that I ever have this championship,” said Jager.
“I came over to New Zealand having scored a few 65’s in tournaments back home, but had been having trouble with the putter. Today it was the best part of my game and it made all the difference.”
Winning the New Zealand Amateur Championship also sees Jager receiving an invitation to next’s years New Zealand Open in Queenstown.
“I’ve never played in an event of that statue and I’m certainly looking forward to coming back to play.”
Jager played superb golf all week during the Championship and becomes the 12th Australian winner from the last twenty-one champions. It’s his first national title and second international win, after winning the Tournament of International Jockey Club of Rosario in Argentina last September.
Today’s win for Jager was timely as the Western Australilan has struggled a little with his game. While still posting low scores, he had yet to get the results he was after.
This evening at Titirangi Golf Club following the presentation and formalities, Jager let out a sigh of relief in the Clubhouse. It had been a long few weeks in New Zealand yet very rewarding.
“This is a great feeling and I’ve had a lot of support from people around me to get me here,” said Jager.
“My game’s back to the level that I want it to be and it gives me plenty of confidence heading back to the US.”