Emotional Win for Sheehan at Vic Open
BY Anthony Powter | Australasian PGA Tour | 2011 Victorian Open | Wrap | 09 Jan 2011
Paul Sheehan fired rounds of 69-68-67-72 to win the Victorian Open by two strokes over Matt Griffin at Spring Valley Golf Club.
Sheehan finished the tournament at 8-under-par for his second victory on the Australasian Tour following his win at the 2006 Jacob’s Creek Open. It was enough to hold off talented young professional Matt Griffin in a tournament that could have fallen into either of the two.
It was a gripping final round to the tournament, illustrated with a contrast of putting between the two front runners.
Sheehan’s putter was simple “white” hot, as was his short game which kept him in the tournament and effectively shut Griffin out for a charge for the title.
On the first hole Sheehan’s steely resolve was shown early as he managed a regulation par after finding the greenside trap and short siding himself with the hole. It would be the first body blow of many delivered B Sheehan to Griffin.
Again on the second Sheehan’s putter was on target as he drained a monster putt to keep himself alive after Griffin had found the green in regulation. Again it was a thing to come in this final as Sheehan continued to grind away hole after hole.
Full credit has to be given to Sheehan who’s a multiple winner of the Japan Tour and who was a player that was no stranger to the winner’s circle during the early par of 2000. Throughout today’s final round Sheehan showed true grit and determination to secure his first win since 2006.
“I felt great going out there at the beginning,” said Sheehan.
“Then I struggled all day after a few missed iron shots from about the third hole. It was a real grind out there today. I had not won for a while and 2008 was a bit of a dark time for me, but to win again is a great feeling. This is a great step in the right direction and I’m really keen to get my game back going in the US.”
Originally from Coffs Harbour but now a resident of Victoria, Sheehan last won in 2006 on the Nationwide Tour where he pipped Michael Sim on the second play-off hole to win the Jacob’s Creek Classic which added to his win the same year in Japan with the Japan Open Golf Championship. He’s enjoyed considerable success in Japan, yet he’s keen to again venture back to the US and ply his game there.
“Things are a little different for me now,” says the 33-year-old Sheehan.
“The kids are older and I feel more settled with my game. Japan has been great, but I’d like to again try the US and give that a go as I want to test my game against the best in the world.”
The final round was a real grind for Sheehan as he struggled to hit greens in regulation and was forced to rely upon his deathly short game and putting. Sheehan continued to display his short game speciality recovering on numerous occasions to save par and in the process keep his momentum alive.
“My putting and my chipping today was just unbelievable,” said Sheehan, who hit just five greens in regulation during the final 18 holes, yet in the process took only 24 putts to get the job done.
“Every hole I had to work for my pars and it was a real challenge. I’m rapt. I love coming to this tournament and it’s a great venue here at Spring Valley.”
Matt Griffin had his chances throughout today’s final round, only to shaved the hole with numerous putts of less than two metres after setting himself up well. It was more a case of frustration than anything and a by-product of Sheehan’s steely resolve and “never-say-die” approach that kept Griffin out of the game.
Griffin knew he had chances in this tournament, no more so than on the 9th hole which if anything was a major turning point in the match after his mid-iron approach came short of the green. Griffin would walk away with a bogey to Sheehan’s par in a chilling reminder as to how cruel this game can be. A that stage prior Griffin was only one behind before falling to two.
If anything Griffin will take a lot away from today’s round and it’s simply a matter of time before he wins his first Australasian Tour title after being runner-up twice this season at Victorian Open and the Western Australian PGA Championship.
“It was close,” said Griffin.
“I played well early and then I just didn’t quite take advantage of opportunities.”
Full credit to Sheehan for the win. It was not only timely but also a reminder as to what a player can achieve when they remain focused, but also have the benefit of a sensational short game to rely upon.