James Gill wins NZ Amateur Strokeplay title
BY Bruce Young | New Zealand Mens Amateur Tour | 2007 New Zealand Amateur Championship | 19 Apr 2007
The conservative way was the winning approach for James Gill on the last hole of the New Zealand menâ€™s 72-hole stroke-play championship at his home Hamilton Golf Club today.
The 21-year-old New Zealand Eisenhower representative was in the final group and he knew he had a two-shot lead on his nearest challengers both of whom had finished âÄâ€ť New Plymouthâ€™s Troy Ropiha and Queenslandâ€™s Andrew Dodt.
He did not want to finish on the bottom tier with the flag on the par-3 150m hole on the upper level so he put the No. 6iron away and elected for ``a little No. 5 ironâ€™â€™ which ended just off the back of the green.
He putted down to 2.5m and, with two putts to win, he deliberately lagged his first to just a couple of rolls short of the cup.
The tap-in bogey left Gill at eight-under par on 280 and the winner of the St Andrews Salver by a shot from fellow international, Ropiha, and Australian stroke-play champion, Dodt, from the Gatton Club in Brisbane.
His win broke Australiaâ€™s dominance on the title. The last New Zealander to win was Brad Shilton at Middlemore in 2002.
Equal third and four shots from Gill were his Waikato teammate, Jim Cusdin, and Australians, Jamie Arnold, from New South Wales and Tom Prowse, from Victoria.
A shot behind them was 23-year-old Tauranga amateur Kevin Smith, whose bold bid ended on the back nine when he had five-over 40 after two double-bogeys, and Brent Watson, from New South Wales.
Gill, who started the last round five ahead of Ropiha and seven ahead of Dodt was in danger of being run down, a fate which had befallen him in the last two South Island 72-hole championships.
When Dodt, three groups ahead of Gill, birdied the 15th he went to eight-under and that gave him a share of the lead after Gill three-putted the 14th for bogey and that after a double-bogey at 13 when he put a ball into a tree and took a penalty.
But Gill played the shot of a champion at the par-4 348m 15th hole. From a side hill lie, he hit a low No. 9 iron which skipped several times on the green and into the hole for an eagle.
His cause was helped when Dodt three-putted the last green to slip back to seven-under and Gill was able to bogey both 17 and 18 and still have a shot to spare.
Ropiha was five behind Gill at the turn, but he played the harder back nine in two-under 33 and came up just one short.
Four players who finished on four-over 292 played off for the final two positions in the 32 who will contest the New Zealand match-play championship over the next three days. Wellingtonâ€™s Richard Pegg and Aucklandâ€™s Ryan Fox were successful and one of those eliminated was the Australian match-play runner-up, Justin Roach, who won the national foursomes on Sunday.
Defending champion, Andrew Green, from Wellingtonâ€™s Shandon club, also missed the cut after a final round of six-over 78.
Source â€“ NZGA
Photo â€“ Anthony Powter