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It was a jubilant NSW side that soared into the men’s Interstate Series final after seeing off a valiant challenge from Victoria this afternoon at Brisbane Golf Club.
In other matches, the Queensland side kept rolling with a 6.5-0.5 defeat of Tasmania while South Australia battled with Northern Territory to prevail 4.5-2.5.
Wins to Cam Davis (1up), Travis Smyth (5&4), Austin Bautista (3&2) and Kevin Yuan (2&1) highlighted the NSW efforts, but it was the stirring comeback to halve by Blake Windred against Kyle Michel that officially booked NSW’s ticket into the final.
With Victoria banking wins behind Cameron John (6&5) and David Micheluzzi (3&2), Windred’s half took some pressure off Davis — who was still in a tight battle with Brett Coletta. A Davis victory would not only ensure that NSW finished the round robin matches with a perfect 6-0 record, but also make the task even harder for Victoria to qualify for the final.
On the final hole, Davis hit a spectacular approach from the trees to set up an eagle putt from just three feet. This eventually led to a concession from Coletta that secured the 4.5-2.5 winning margin.
With NSW and Victoria deadlocked for most of the afternoon, Windred was delighted that his comeback helped spark his side to victory.
“It was just a really tough, but amazing outcome. I started five down through eight, so I wasn’t feeling the best and a bit tired,” said Windred.
“I just always had it in the back of my mind to fight to the end, it doesn’t matter if you lose one down or 2&1, you just fight until the match is finished. And fortunately enough I was able to get down the last hole and make a birdie to halve and take the pressure off the Blues which was awesome.”
Windred also credited a pep talk from teammate Travis Smyth when they passed on adjacent fairways.
“When I was five down Trav came over and told me that confidence was everything,” said Windred. “I really did embrace the words! And obviously it worked for me.”
Windred also paid tribute to Davis and his incredible approach into the ninth.
“That was honestly one of the best shots I’ve seen in a long time,” said Windred.
“Under that pressure there’s only a few people who can do that and Cam Davis is one of them."
At the conclusion of the match Davis still wanted to put away his almost-gimmie eagle putt, and his teammates gatherd around to share the moment.
As the putt when in, the team emulated the “Running Man Challenge” dance that they posted on social media on the eve of the series.
“Our group is such a close group, and we’re all here for each other," said Windred.
"So when Cam still wanted to putt all the boys got around him and it turned into a bit of a running man challenge when it went in.”
NSW will enjoy a sleep-in tomorrow as they await their opponent for the afternoon's final. In all likelihood it will be Queensland who only need to half against a winless Northern Territory side to qualify.
Victoria are still mathematical chances to make the final, but they are reliant on defeating Western Australia in tomorrow morning’s match aswell as an upset win for the Northern Territory.
Instead, the Victoria vs WA match is shaping up as a battle for third place, but WA will need to take at least 5.5 points from their 7 matches tomorrow to jump up in the standings.
South Australia will finish 5th even if they lose to the sixth placed Tasmanians tomorrow, but SA they can move up to 4th if they win alongside a WA loss.