Joshua Carmichael has enjoyed a dream golfing road trip in the Taranaki.

The North Harbour professional is the latest breakthrough winner on the Charles Tour claiming the Port Taranaki Open by one shot from good friend Hamish Robertson in cool conditions today at Ngamotu.

The 30-year-old fired a three under par 69 in the final round to come from behind and post a 10 under par total in what was a survival of the fittest of 36 holes on Saturday.

Two rounds were played today to avoid the wild weather that was forecasted for tomorrow and has been synonymous with the Port Taranaki Open. Carmichael was the last man standing claiming four titles in 10 days.

“I am elated, relieved and just absolutely stoked to win this title,” said Carmichael who moves to the top of the NZ PGA Order of Merit with his $7,200 win.

A Carmichael win did not look likely with Robertson four shots up with seven holes to play.

The Taihape professional still had a birdie chance on the 18th green from 15 feet to get to 10 under and when he missed the title was there for the taking. Carmichael made no mistake. He was left with an up and down from 25m from the left fringe and he hit to two feet to put the title beyond doubt.

“It is funny, you practice that chip shot so many times pretending you are doing it to win a title and then the time comes and you wonder how you’ll go. I was so relieved to hit it dead. I wanted to get it on the green as soon as possible. To see it roll up to the hole was a good feeling.”

It wasn’t always a good feeling out on course as Carmichael endured a rollercoaster final 36 holes on Saturday that included a disastrous triple bogey in round three on the 12th. He played flawless golf on the final nine holes – a five under par 31 to get home.

“With everything I went through today I just can’t believe it was my day. I made doubles and triples but I keep hanging in there, trying to catch up. It was a nice surprise that it was enough.”

It has been an incredible run for the likeable pro who grew up playing his golf at the Pupuke Golf Club on Auckland’s North Shore. He won the $20,000 Wanganui Pro-am, the $10,000 Hawera Pro-am, the pro-am on Wednesday and now he claims first prize in the $40,000 Port Taranaki Open.

“It has been a wicked stretch of golf. A dream road trip. I don’t know what to say but I am really stoked.”

Carmichael, a product of Rangitoto College in Murrays Bay, is proud of the progress he is making in his game. He has been working hard in the gym and also with coach Sam Parsons.

“It is my third four round win as a professional and my first at home – it nice to win at home. It has been a long time between drinks. I won my first four round tournament five years ago in Papua New Guinea so it’s been a long time coming.

“I have been working hard with Sammy and it is good to see the results. I am just trying to keep pace with big Mike [good mate Michael Hendry] if I can ride on his coattails then I reckon I’ll be doing alright.”

Many winners of the Port Taranaki Open have gone onto achieve bigger and better things. Mark Brown won here in 2006 and progressed to win the Johnnie Walker Championship on the European Tour. Brad Iles claimed the title in 2007 and is now playing on the Nationwide Tour. Michael Hendry won in 2009 and last year won the Indonesian Open on the One Asia Tour.

Carmichael hopes that he can follow that pathway to success in his upcoming trip to play the Tahiti Open and then the Australasian Tour.

The hard case Maori, a true gentleman of the game, spared a thought for his good mate Robertson who he was best man for at his wedding in August.

“We are really great mates so it is always hard. I wanted to chase him down. I didn’t want him to lose it, I wanted to go out there and win and I feel like I did that. He didn’t lose it, I mean he shot 66 and 73 on the final two rounds and he played great the whole tourney.”

Robertson, from Taihape, who led Jim Cusdin and Johnathon Ratcliffe by one shot heading into the final round after a superb six under par 66, was “gutted” by his final round 73.

“It was a hard day because I had no idea where I stood. It was like I was playing in the dark. Now that I know it is pretty gutting to come so close and not win one of these again. But I am proud of how I played. I played decently all week and Josh must have played well to shoot 69.”

Waikato professional Mark Purser fired a three under par 69 to finish in third place, Te Awamutu pro Brad Shilton managed the joint low score of the final round (68) to finish fourth and Waikato pro Jim Cusdin had a disappointing three over 75 to claim fifth.

Auckland amateur Johnathon Ratcliffe, the overnight leader after two rounds of 67 and 66, had a forgettable final round 80 to finish in a share of 15th place.

Local Brad Hayward finished in a share of sixth place with rounds of 70, 72, 69 and 72 to claim the men’s amateur honours.

There was a titanic battle for the women’s title which saw Emily Perry overcome Charlotte Thomas for her second consecutive win on the Charles Tour.

The Waikato amateur held a two shot lead over professional Thomas (69) heading into the final 18 holes. But the professional fought back into the contest to square the match up with 10 holes remaining. The New Zealand rep rallied to restore her two shot advantage and hold on with a birdie at the last.

“It feels fantastic to be honest,” said the 20-year-old Perry.

“I was pretty nervous coming down the last but my second shot onto the green really took the pressure off. It was pretty straightforward two putting from there. You are always nervous putting for a win but I was just happy to get it done.”

Perry said that her consecutive wins of the Charles Tour is further proof that the work she is doing with a mental coach is working and that her game is on the right track.

“It isn’t faltering – my mental approach. I haven’t shot an over par round in the past eight rounds of golf and I have never done that in my life before.

“It is pretty exciting for me as I embraced the pressure today. When it got really close and Charlotte played great to put the pressure on me I responded and that is really encouraging.

“I am looking forward to the Shirley Open now with a new mix of players and another challenge.”


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