After 33 gruelling holes, it was not to be back to back Irish victories down under as 20-year-old home favourite Jed Morgan wrapped up a 5&3 win over Tom McKibbin at the Australian Amateur Championship.
McKibbin will look back on the opening 12 holes as the Holywood man left himself a mountain to climb. Morgan went 2-UP on McKibbin after six, before tripling that advantage winning four holes on the spin to be 6-UP by the time the pair were standing on the 13th tee.
McKibbin showed signs of recovery and won the 15th thanks to a lengthy lag putt up the par-5’s green and when the Morgan blasted his approach over the green on the 18th, McKibbin reeled back one more and entered the break just 4-DN.
Starting the second round, It was Morgan who came screaming out of the blocks once again getting back to 6-UP with birdies at two, three and four. But as Morgan said in his trophy presentation acceptance speech, McKibbin “just wouldn’t go to bed”, as McKibbin bounced back to claim the sixth and seventh holes to draw things level since the break.
The pair traded holes on eight and nine as McKibbin threatened to close the gap but missed a crucial a seven-footer down the hill at 10 to remain 4-DN.
Battling the rain, a partisan crowd and a now under pressure Morgan, the Irish international pulled another back with a superb up-and-down on the par-3 11th and suddenly the margin was back to three.
But the momentum was short lived as a bogey on 12 dropped him back to 4-DN. It was a lead the Queenslander would not give up as he closed out the match on the 15th green.
If ‘the dream’ is winning your national amateur championship, on your home course, with your brother on the bag, family by your side and a swarm of fellow members willing you on for seven straight hours, then Jed Morgan lived ‘the dream’ on Sunday.
Morgan ensured the trophy would not have back to back Irish winners this year following on from Conor Purcell’s win last year.
“The Aus Amateur’s something I’ve always dreamed about winning,” Morgan said. “You have no idea how badly I wanted to win today. No idea,” he added.
Despite defeat in the final, the now 17-year-old McKibbin is showing all the right signs as he no doubt looks to build on his early season form in Australia.
“I Didn’t get the win today but still delighted that I reached the final” said McKibbin. “Congrats to Jed who played great. For me it’s home and school before heading to South Africa with the rest of the Ireland lads. Onward and upward” he added.
McKibbin departs Oz with valuable WAGR points and the belief he can mix it with the best anywhere in the world.