Australian golfer Matt Jager today became the first player for 19 years to win the amateur matchplay championships on both sides of the Tasman in the same year when he beat Mt Maunganui teenager Brad Kendall 7 and 6 in the 36-hole final at Hastings.
The last player to score the double was another Australian, Lucas Parsons, in 1991 when he won at Gisborne.
Jager was joined by 15-year-old Cecilia Cho as the 2009 winners both successfully defended their titles although in vastly different circumstances at Hastings Golf Club.
The 21-year-old Jager from Perth, Western Australia, was defending the New Zealand title he won at Titirangi last year. The last man to win back-to-back titles was Aucklander Terry Pulman in 1977 and 1976.
The 18-year-old Kendall, who beat Jager to the strokeplay title on Saturday, could be well satisfied with his play over the week. He bettered par in three of his rounds in the strokeplay and showed remarkable maturity in winning his way to the matchplay final. Kendall could not create history and match strokeplay and matchplay victories that his father Owen achieved in his illustrious amateur career.
But on another perfect Hawkes Bay day after early fog had delayed the start, he was never really in contention in the final. Kendall was three down after four holes, reduced the margin to one after nine, but then lost the next four holes.
Jager led by five after 18 holes and, though Kendall won a couple back, the end came on the par-four 12th where the Australian rolled in a birdie putt. He had been five under par in the morning but was over the card in the afternoon.
"I hit the ball great this morning," said Jager, " and I missed a couple of putts but I didn't let that worry me because that happens in 36-hole matches.
"It's a great course and I love playing it. You've got to shape the ball and I like that."
Aucklander Cho matched Jager's effort of back-to-back victories but she had to play two extra holes before downing Chihiro Ikeda, an 18-year-old from the Philippines.
Cho appeared to be cruising when she was four up with seven holes to play and still three ahead with four to play. But Ikeda won the next three holes with two birdies and a par before they halved the 36th hole.
Cho stayed alive with a good recovery on the 37th and clinched the win on the next when Ikeda's drive was blocked by a tree and she had to chip out.
"I got a bit nervous," said Cho. "There always seems to be a fightback in matchplay and she played really well."
Cho is the first woman to win back-to-back matchplay titles since Australian Loraine Lambert in 1991 and 1992.
Result, Lion Foundation New Zealand Amateur Championship, Hastings GC:
Men: Matt Jager (Australia) bt Brad Kendall (Mt Maugnanui) 7 and 6.
Women: Cecilia Cho (Pakuranga) bt Chihiro Ikeda (Philippines) at the 38th.
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