England's Finch soars high with NZ Open win
BY iseekgolf.com | Australasian PGA Tour | 2007 New Zealand Open | Round Four | 02 Dec 2007
Englishman Richard Finch kept his nerve as others fell around him to claim his first professional title at the Michael Hill New Zealand Open in Queenstown today.
A record Open crowd assembled to watch Finch, the overnight leader by three strokes at 14-under, try to hold his advantage over Australian hopefuls Steven Bowditch and Peter Fowler.
However, it never eventuated and the engraver could’ve started his formalities when Finch took a six-shot advantage into the last nine holes.
He finally did so when the 30-year-old drained a 12-foot par putt on the 18th for an even-par 72, following rounds of 73, 65 and 64 for a total of 14-under 274. New South Welshman Paul Sheehan drove a steady ship to sneak into second, shooting five birdies and two bogeys in a solid 69.
Both Fowler and Bowditch were unable to control their emotions while Finch stayed on an even keel, relying on a simplistic mix of straight driving, greens in regulation and dropping the odd putt as he’d done most of the week.
Even a crowd disturbance during his tee shot on the first hole couldn’t perturb him, recovering to make birdie after finding long grass on the right.
While he didn’t set the course alight as he did with his course record 65 on Friday – subsequently broken by Peter Fowler’s 62 – before going one lower the following day, his lead was always safe despite nerves dictating a few jittery swings towards the end.
Four players tied for fourth at 10-under, with a pair of 66s for Aussie Craig Parry and Swede Alexander Noren – the equal best rounds of the day alongside Welshman Jamie Donaldson – moved them up alongside Steven Jeffress and Matthew Millar.
Players now head to the Hyatt Regency Coolum on the Sunshine Coast Queensland for the 2007 Cadbury Schweppes Australian PGA Championship starting on Thursday.