Manawatu golfer Joshua Munn enjoyed a week of rewriting history at the ask>metro Muriwai Open.

The 20-year-old, who smashed the course record on day one with an unbelievable nine under par 63 in fine conditions, held off pros Hamish Robertson and Grant Moorhead in the wind and the rain by one shot for a wire to wire win at the ask>metro Muriwai Open.

It was a coming of age performance from Munn. He becomes only the fourth amateur to win on the Charles Tour following outstanding amateurs Ben Campbell and Josh Geary who won the Carrus Tauranga Open and Troy Ropiha who won the Port Taranaki Open.   

He is the first golfer to win wire-to-wire on the Charles Tour since Geary achieved that feat back in 2006 at the Carrus Tauranga Open.

“I can’t really believe this is happening, it’s crazy really, I still don’t feel like I am the winner,” said Munn who fired a two over par 74 today.

“It is unbelievable really, this is my first big tournament and to win on the Charles Tour is huge. There was a bit of pressure on me not to bomb out after I shot 63 but I hung in there pretty nicely in the end.”

Munn’s Dad Steve, who owns a Pizza Piazza in Fielding where Josh works, left work at 10pm to drive to Auckland from Palmerston North overnight and arrived at 5am. He slept in the car park of the Muriwai Golf Club to be there for the final round.

“We got about five minutes of sleep but I wasn’t going to miss this,” said his Dad, who caddied for Josh throughout the final round.

“It was a tough day. My heart was pounding when he was coming down 18 but I am just so proud of him. He has worked really hard for this.

“He was gutted to miss the academy but his coach [Andre White – the coach of Tim Wilkinson] told him to show them with his sticks. He has always had the ability so it was great to see him get it done.”

“I talked to him last night and told him I didn’t want him to come up if he didn’t have anyone to go home with him because he’d probably fall asleep. It was awesome to have him here and share this with him.

Munn was put under pressure by playing partner Robertson on the 16th when the Taihape pro made a 16 foot putt for birdie to join Moorhead and Munn in the lead at 12 under. 

“I saw on the leaderboard with three holes to play that Grant Moorhead was tied for the lead and then Hamish made that putt on the 16th and it was game on,” said Munn.

Moorhead, who is yet to win on the Charles Tour, came up just short by one shot when he made a bogey on 17 after finding the bunker short of the green.

“I am pretty happy with my round,” said Moorhead.

“To get it to four under in those conditions was really good scoring and it shows that what I am working on is coming together.”

The local legend paid Munn credit for his superb win under pressure.

“I think he came here with a point to prove after missing the national squad,” said Moorhead.

“He is a great talent and that is hard to believe [he didn’t make it]. He was very impressive and he is one of a few top young guys in New Zealand who are fearless. It is good to see.”  

Like Moorhead, Robertson was left to rue what might have been. He briefly held the lead coming through the turn before he made bogeys on 10 and 11. He made a resurgence on the back nine with that birdie on 16 to get into a share of the lead. But a poor chip from the left of the green on 17 derailed his momentum.

That meant Munn held a one shot lead heading down the last but Robertson did not die wondering. He hit a great 4 iron from 179m to 15 feet past the hole. Munn was unfazed and made a fine putt up the slope to a foot to make Robertson have to make his birdie. He missed and Munn could finally relax. 

“It was one of those shots that it was all built against me so I was happy with the result,” said Robertson of his approach to 18. “It was disappointing to come up just short but Josh played great today. The money I earned here will help out with my wedding [in August] on the Sunshine Coast.”

With an amateur winning, Robertson and Moorhead split the winning for 1st and 2nd place to take home $5700.

Throughout the final round the expected charge from Richard Lee never came. He made a triple bogey seven at the par four 7th which was a body blow to his title chances. Lee would go onto card a five over par 77.

Meantime Lydia Ko equaled the course record with a three under 69 in the final round. She was too consistent for Auckland professional Phillis Meti in the wind and won the women’s title by three shots continuing an incredible run.

“Winning every tournament is a new feeling and I am happy to play well here,” said the North Harbour amateur Ko.

The 14-year-old admits it’s that it is hard living up to the billing of being World No.1.

“People expect amazing things,” said Ko. “There is pressure because everyone who come to watch me want to see the flashy stuff but the conditions were hard here this week. It is nice to win after a good game with Phillis. She played very well and I am happy that I improved throughout the week.”

Ko shot progressively better throughout the week with a 74, 72, 70 and 69 to seal the title with a three under par total. She will now prepare for the British Amateur and Astor Trophy event in the United Kingdom in June.

The ask>metro Muriwai Open will be remembered for the performance of a talented amateur Josh Munn who upset a field of quality pros for the biggest win of his young career.  

Photo Caption: Manawatu amateur Josh Munn made history by becoming the fourth amateur to win on the Charles Tour when he won the ask>metro Muriwai Open by one shot.


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