by Justin Falconer & Jack Lucas
(Photo: Justin Falconer)
Jordan Zunic cleared the memories of twelve months ago at Royal Pines and now leaves Queensland a champion after winning the Isuzu Queensland Open in 2018 at Brisbane Golf Club.
The New South Welshman needed all five strokes of his nightly lead over the T.B. Hunter Cup, Zunic makes par the last to keep his main challengers Steven Jeffress and Rhein Gibson off.
Zunic's buffer slowly evaporated during the day, the 26-year-old managed to keep his coolness late for his third ISPS HANDA PGA Tour or Australasia title
Zunic signed for a closing 2-over 73 to end the week at 11-under, with Gibson holding second place on the standings at 10-under after a 3-under 68.
Jeffress finished ninth completely on a 9-under for the tournament after a 1-under final round.
An emotional Zunic spoke after winning with the press and revealed that this victory was exceptionally sweet
"This was a bit different for me, I lost my grandmother a few weeks ago," Zunic said.
"I told my fiancée and caddy Olivia that this week would be her in memory, it really means a lot.
"Funny enough it was just my own Happy Gilmore moment where he said" grandma "over the ball, I literally told myself that I was in that par-putt that this was for her."
Standing on the first tee this morning with a lead of five shots, Zunic got off to a flying start with birdies on his two opening holes.
That was where the good start ended with a series of four bogeys over the next seven holes. He finished his round at 2-over 73 for a tournament total 11-under the card and claimed a one-shot victory over Rhein Gibson.
"What a hard day, I started well with those first two holes, but then my putter got cold, I missed a few short and the wind picked up a lot," Zunic said.
"That was the hardest day we had the whole week, I did not hit fairways on certain holes and I had to clamber around this golf course, which is very difficult."
A birdie on the 17th got the New South Welshman to 11-under while he was ahead of him, Gibson had just checked into the clubhouse at 10-under.
A quirky tee-shot on the 18th saw him in the trees to the right of the channel to force him to emit for his second shot. He scored on the green with his third before going over a 12-foot par-putt before the championship.
The hard work was done for Zunic in the third round, his 6-under-65 gave him a five-shot cushion that eventually sustained pressure from the chasing group.
"I kept saying to Olivia that I should just go on, that the five-shot buffer came in today, was clearly the difference, it allowed me to have a pretty bad day and it allowed me to stay in the tournament," added Zunic. .
"Not one point there I gave up, I kept telling myself to keep grinding, after the 16th when I made that bogey, I just had to hang in there.
"Although my putter was not good today, he certainly did well on the last two holes.
"I am very happy, I'm glad I did the job, I'm just tired."
Zunic now has a full card at the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australia until the end of 2019, which puts a little pressure on his trip to Spain to qualify for the European Tour through the final stage of the qualifying school.
"It's such a bonus for me this week because the exemption from my New Zealand Open winner would expire at the end of this year, so I had to keep my card this year.
"Missing the NSW Open and Australian Open would have been a huge hit for me on the money list, so winning this week will take care of Australia next year.
"I can focus purely on Europe next week and hopefully come back with a card, but this year I will play the Australian PGA Championship, I have some unfinished business here."
In his first professional event, Doug Klein finished roundly fourth at 7-under, Matthew Millar and Adam Blyth share fifth at 6-under.
New South Welshman Blake Windred covered a sensational week after finishing as a small amateur in a 8 out of 5-under share for the tournament.