BY MICHAEL COURT, Special To GGP
ROSE BAY, NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIA |
Jake Higginbottom has never heard of Australia’s
first major champion Jim Ferrier. Yet officials
were comparing the young Newcastle golfer to
Ferrier after his stunning effort to win the New
South Wales Amateur Championship at Royal
Sydney last week.
Higginbottom is only 16 but showed a golf
maturity far beyond his years to topple England
Walker Cup player Tommy Fleetwood 3 and 2 in
the 36-hole final.
Fleetwood, who only celebrated his 19th birthday the previous week at the NSW Medal, pushed
Higginbottom all the way before eventually succumbing to his rival, who chipped in from off the
green for par at the 16th.
The pair had gone to lunch with Higginbottom
clinging to a 1-up lead after a birdie at Royal Sydney’s famous 18th hole.
The youngster then came out firing in the afternoon session, going 2-up at the second hole (their
20th) before bagging an eagle at the par- 5 seventh
and successive birdies at the next two holes to all
but put the issue beyond doubt with a 5-up lead.
Yet Fleetwood refused to surrender, and even
when he was “dormie five” played one of the shots
of the day to birdie the 14th for the second time
that day – hitting a fairway bunker shot 160 metres
to a metre to grab one back.
Fleetwood birdied the following hole as well but
Higginbottom’s chip-in for a halve at the 16th was
enough to secure the title.
The great Jim Ferrier was also 16 when he
won the 1931 NSW Amateur before later moving
to the United States and winning the 1947 PGA