CHARLES TOUR: TARANAKI ENERGY OPEN: WILKIN CLAIMS SECOND TITLE AT NGAMOTU

14/04/2013

Auckland professional Fraser Wilkin loves the pressure moments in golf.

 


The 24-year-old made a clutch eagle putt on the par 5 18that Ngamotu to hold off New Plymouth amateur Brad Hayward and win the Taranaki Energy Open by one shot.

 

Wilkin, who opened with three rounds of 67 to be three shots back from Hayward heading into the final round, saved his best for the final round with a seven under par 65 to claim his first four round win as a professional and his second title on the Charles Tour.

 

There were plenty of twists throughout the final round but the defining moment came on the 72nd hole when Wilkin, who held a one shot lead, needed to respond to Hayward’s approach to within 5m from the hole.   

 

Wilkin stood in the fairway 153m from the hole and hit an eight iron to 2m from the hole. It was a perfect reply under pressure.

 

“I really like myself in those situations when I have to hit a shot because there is no option really,” said the rookie professional from Royal Auckland.

 

“I knew Brad was going to be in there pretty close and I thought he would hole his putt because he didn’t make many today and he was definitely due. I was much more nervous trying to make that eight footer than I was hitting out of the fairway that is for sure and it was a great feeling to see it go in.”

 

Hayward claimed the leading amateur honours and was pleased with his effort where he fought right to the last with a clutch eagle.

 

“I am obviously disappointed but I have to give credit to Fraser,” said the 21-year-old.

 

“He played superbly on the back nine. It was a lot of fun having a battle with him and Troy [Ropiha] coming home and he deserved his win.”

 

Two-time champion Ropiha (68) finished in third, four shots back from the champion, and Waikato amateur Luke Toomey (68) claimed fourth place.   

 

Wilkin, who won the Muriwai Open last year as an amateur from good mate Ryan Fox, said this win was even more special as he took home $7200 for his performance and continued his progression as a player.

 

“It is great to win my first four round tournament as a professional. I won my first tournament at Waikanae where I shot a course record but it was great to play so well over four rounds and to putt so well was really special.

 

His four round 22 under par total is comfortably a tournament record for the event that has been won by many respected names of New Zealand Golf - the likes of Mark Brown, Brad Iles and Michael Hendry.

 

“I take a huge amount of confidence from this performance. It is nice to just play well. This is easily my lowest four round total. I think Muriwai is my next best at 15 under so to shoot 22 under was great.”

 

Wilkin, who is coached by Marcus Wheelhouse in Auckland, made a 15m putt for birdie on the first hole to set the tone. He said it wasn’t easy taking on two well-supported locals in Hayward and Ropiha. 

 

“It was really pushing me. Brad and Troy are obviously really good around here and with their hometown support it definitely pumped them up and was pushing me. I thought I was making some headway on nine and then they

made a couple of birdies and from that point on I got back into the mode of making birdies because I knew that I had to win the tournament.”

 

The likeable former NZ rep is now full of belief that he can defend his title at the Muriwai Open. 

 

“I think I will take a step back from this and reflect and then be ready for the challenge at Muriwai. It is not an easy life being a pro golfer in New Zealand. I am very fortunate to have people supporting me but the money means a whole lot and hopefully I will be able to invest that to do something more in the future.”

 

 

 

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