Canterbury-born James Anstiss has claimed his maiden professional victory on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour to win by four shots after a clinical finish at the Harewood Open, while Wanganui’s Tara Raj also won for the first time in the women’s field. 

Anstiss, the rookie-professional finished with a steady round of one-under par and while the margin of victory was comfortable in the end, 2014 Harewood Open champion Ryan Chisnall pushed him all the way, closing to within just one shot with three holes to play.

After a hattrick of nervous bogeys from holes 12-14, things started to get interesting before Anstiss then produced the shot of the championship on the par five 16th hole, with a perfect seven iron that ended a foot from the pin for a tap-in eagle.

“I had the perfect yardage and knew I had to do something big with Chissy [Chisnall] right on my tail, so it was an amazing feeling to pull it off and see it so close to the hole,” smiled Anstiss.

“It feels great and it’s very special. I felt like this year was my chance to get one of these titles, so to tick that box is awesome and I’m meeting my goals in my first year as a pro when you never really know how it’s going to go, so it’s great.”

It was a family affair for the Anstiss family with his Grandmother stealing the show and getting to witness his first win.

“Being back here in Christchurch is really nice and to have my Grandmother here to watch was really special and I don’t get to see her much. We used to play mini putt together and she is a big reason why I play the game, so it was pretty cool having her here.”

The pressure proved too much for Chisnall with a wayward drive on the 72nd hole resulting in a bogey ended his chances while Anstiss made a clinical birdie to add to his comfortable margin.

David Smail ended a solid campaign in third place as he starts to play more in preparation for the seniors tour which is not far away for the 48-year-old. Fraser Wilkin and Dongwoo Kang rounded out the top five after solid play on the weekend.

15-year-old Tara Raj has also won for the first time on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour, but went the hard way about it after giving up a six-shot lead with just four holes remaining.

Raj who was consistent all week found it challenging this morning before showing her class to claim the title by one shot.

Despite starting with a birdie on the first hole, Raj dropped eight shots in a six hole stretch to allow Caryn Khoo to enter the contest as she came within a couple of shots of the Wanganui amateur who held her nerve in the end.

“It feels really good, it got a little bit stressful out there but it feels nice to get it done and hopefully I can get some more wins the future,” beamed Raj.

With a two-shot lead playing the par five 18th, Raj left her approach shot short of the green as Khoo applied the pressure by chipping it close for a tap in birdie. Raj then needed to make up and down for the biggest win of her young career which she did in style by chipping it just inches from the hole to seal victory.

“It’s such a special moment and I talked to mum who was with Grandma and they were screaming down the phone which was awesome. I wish they were here, but I’m happy and they’re happy so all is well.”

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