CHARLES TOUR: JOHN JONES STEEL HAREWOOD OPEN: HAMILTON HOLDS OFF GEARY IN CHRISTCHURCH

28/10/2013

Omanu professional James Hamilton has delivered one of the best finishes ever seen in the history of The Charles Tour.

The 24-year-old secured his first title on the local series – when he birdied the 17th and eagled the par five 18th – to come from behind and upset tournament favourite Josh Geary.

Hamilton, who held a one shot lead heading into the final round, carded a two-under par 70 to finish on a nine-under par, 279, total to win by two strokes and secure the biggest win of his golfing career.

Levin golfer Tyler Hodge fired a two-under par 70 in the final round to secure the leading amateur honours but the talk of the Harewood clubhouse was the performance of Hamilton.

His overwhelming feeling after securing the title in the $40,000 event was one of absolute relief.

“I am relived, ecstatic…just stoked,” said Hamilton following his win.

“This is a huge moment for me. I have played in about 15 of these [Charles Tour events] and to win one is an unbelievable feeling.”

The former Bay of Plenty rep, who finished as the player of the tournament in the 2008 Toro Interprovincial tournament, delivered a clutch birdie putt on the 17th to get into a share of the lead after Geary had birdied the par 5 16th.

“I was feeling good on the 18th tee,” he said. “I was just telling myself to cool off a bit. I was pretty pumped up. I just kind of relaxed and got back into it.”

Hamilton delivered the championship defining shot when he hit his approach to the 512m par 5 18th to around 22 feet to set up an eagle chance.

His putt on the last, which was met by a huge roar from the sizeable gallery when it dropped, will be his standout memory from his breakthrough win.

“I rammed it. It was never going to be short. I said that to myself. It was awesome to see if go in.”

Hamilton will have to change his plans for summer. He had intended to take the next five months off golf to get back into work and then rebuild in an attempt to qualify for the Euro Pro Tour.

He was unsure what this win would mean for his golf career going forward.

“Hopefully lots,” he laughed. “Hopefully this is a stepping stone to bigger things for me. Maybe the Euro Pro Tour next year. So I will try to carry this form on into next year.”

Hamilton paid tribute to his mentor Geary, who helped him as a youngster with golf clinics in the Bay of Plenty, and said he was the benchmark for his game.

“He was really unlucky today,” he said.

“Beating someone like Josh means that I am on track. I don’t know what else to say. He has been a mentor for me over the years and to beat him is a huge honour.”

Geary was looking to make history at Harewood. He was hoping to become the joint-most successful player in the history of the Charles Tour, alongside Michael Hendry and Doug Holloway, with four titles.

He lipped out at least five times throughout the final round and conceded it was just one of those days.

“That is golf,” said the 28-year-old professional.

“I actually played pretty solid. I had five or six lip-outs, some of them pretty bad ones, just nothing was dropping.”

Geary was disappointed to miss a good opportunity but he paid tribute to Hamilton for his grandstand finish.

“I was impressed with the way he played the last two holes. He bounced back really well to have a birdie – eagle finish. I hope that he pushes on from this win and does something good in the next few weeks. He played really well

under pressure and hopefully now he will be on his way.”

Hamilton said one of the most satisfying things for him was the way he handled the pressure.

“I am stoked that I got through the whole week and just been really steady. I am really proud of myself. I was just trying to be even-minded. I am just stoked that I am off the golf course and can have a beer.”

 

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