You hear of “scoreboard pressure” in other sports all the time, but Aiden Didone gave a master class in it today to win a classic American amateur golf crown.
The Victorian, 21, slowly but surely coming of age as an elite amateur, showed the wile of someone far more experienced at the pointy end of tournaments to snare the Porter Cup in New York.
After a back-and-forth tussle with Chun An Yu, a collegiate golfer with Arizona State who has two US Open appearances already under his belt, Didone simply turned the screws when it mattered most.
The Metropolitan member arrived at the 71st hole, all square in an effective match play situation with his Taiwanese opponent at the Niagara Falls Country Club.
But when he rolled in a 5m birdie bomb, the 4m one confronting Yu suddenly looked thrice as far.
Yu knocked his birdie try past, then couldn’t make the 1.5m par putt back, the lipout handing DIdone a decisive two-shot edge.
A great up and down from greenside rough on the par-three closing hole sealed the third Aussie win at the Porter Cup’s 61st edition, following victories to Geoff Drakeford (2014) and Harrison Endycott (2016).
“It’s all a bit of a blur really,” said Didone, who made his breakthrough victory at the Tasmanian Open earlier this year.
“I went for a long time and didn’t really know if I would get a moment like this … then it sort of clicked into place last year and I’ve been playing much better since.”
And when he sees his rounds of 68-68-65-69 put his name on a trophy that sports such greats as Phil Mickelson, David Duval and Ben Crenshaw, that improvement will probably hit home even more for the humble Melburnian.
“I played pretty well in the third round to give myself a chance, but I was still three behind,” Didone said.
“But it’s amazing what you go to when you’re in that situation and you’re suddenly a chance (to win). I was really happy to just play consistently and play the right shots in the moment.
“It feels really good … as I said, a bit of a blur.”
Didone won’t get the chance to test his form at this week’s Western Open, nor the upcoming US Amateur having already begun the long trek home.
“Maybe I should have dropped them a cheeky note and tried my luck,” said Didone, who will instead focus his efforts on the upcoming Australian amateur season.
“I’m just still learning, but hopefully it’s coming together a little bit.”