#AusAm: Irish wins epic final

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Conor Purcell has won the 2019 Australian Men & # 39; s Amateur Championship


Conor Purcell had a Guinness in hand to give the celebrations of his triumph of the Australian Amateur Championship a kickstart

It was just that nobody knew for sure if the jubilant Irishman was in party mode – or just trying to calm his nerves after an epic, nail-biting final against Nathan Barbieri who was decided on the first extra hole.

The game had faded and flowed with some of the most beautiful golf on the pristine Woodlands course.

But just as entertaining as the combined 17 birdies of a quality final, the match really came to life in the last hour when Barbieri fought back from four to 10 holes to force an extra hole.

The upcoming New South Welshman, who played extra holes in the Tour of 32 and won his semi-final after being three down with five to play, again showed incredible picking.

Barbieri's fight was typed when, still two down while walking to 35, his tee shot drilled to within 1.5 m, roared as he walked his birdie putt to keep the game alive.

The drama intensified then, from the right moment, Purcell's second to the par-five 36th hole across the fairway and the path came alongside the clubhouse.

Barbieri suddenly got a new life when the Irishman could not clamber and when he knelt his T-shirt in the middle of the 37th, it seemed as if the momentum could bring him home.

But he drew another 122m approach and his subsequent bump shot down the hill past the pin that simply would not stop in time for easy return attempts.

Meanwhile Purcell, with subdued self-assurance, stayed behind with his birdie-putt to kick-in range and got his par.

Barbieri stood over his putt, in the end he went to the pit too often for even the cliffhanger gods, and blocked his par-de-camp just right.

Purcell was politely harassed by a host of Irish fans who came to see him play, and he became the first Australian Amateur Champion in the 125-year history of the tournament.

And since the price of exemptions in the fields of the Australian Open and Vic Open – plus the surprising honorary membership that was later given to him by the host club – became reality, the modest youngster was still shocked.

"The last few holes were a bit tense, but closing it on the play-off hole was fun," said Purcell, who had his brother Gary on the bag for the final and later showed his trophy presentation live via Facetime to his parents in Dublin.

"Thanks to Nathan, he made some great photos when he needed today and it was pretty tense that the last few minutes.

"Funny enough, I was more nervous on the first tee this morning than I was in the play-off – I still felt comfortable because I had played well all week."

Barbieri, a member of Monash Country Club in Sydney and representative of the state of New South Wales, was equally proud and devastated.

"He had a putt on nine (the twenty-seventh hole) to go with five to me and I fought as hard as I could, I could not give more," said an emotional Barbieri.

"Luckily I made a birdie on 17 and 18 (35 and 36) was all mine, then (in the play-off) I hit a good tee-shot, but just pulled my second and not in the best place.

"I am clearly very disappointed, but I am so proud of myself how I went this week."

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