A stunning Sunday 62 enabled Queenslander Daniel Nisbet to win the 99th ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open today.
Nisbet ran down Victorian Terry Pilkadaris’ five-shot overnight lead with an eagle and four straight birdies on the back nine to finish at 27 under with rounds of 63-66-67-62.
Nisbet’s four-round total broke, by a stroke, the previous tournament record of the late Kel Nagle in 1964.
“We have some great family ties with Kel Nagle. One of my neighbours who recently passed was a great friend with Kel and they kept him updated with my very junior golf. It is a surreal thing to be put up against him and beat his record when there is so much extended family history with him,” said Nisbet.
“I’ve been aggressive all week so I just wanted to stay aggressive and attack the pins and I just wanted to hole a few more putts.”
Nisbet had eaten into Pilkadaris’ buffer over the first nine holes, but it looked as if he was starting to run out of time until his extraordinary charge.
An eagle on the 460m par-5 10th hole for the second time in as many rounds helped Nisbet to a share of the lead, before a blistering four-birdie finish secured him the Brodie Breeze Trophy and a rousing round of applause from the crowd surrounding Millbrook Resort’s island 18th green.
“I played really well this week; I played really well two weeks prior as well. What this leads to in the future, I don’t know,” added Nisbet.
“My coach, Richard Woodhouse, my wife Ashley, she does all my training for me, all my programs — we just want to keep doing the same thing, it’s working at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get a few more starts out of this win and try and replicate it.”
Nisbet collects $191,522.61 for the biggest win of his career, as well as three guaranteed starts on the Japan Tour, the rest of this season and the next on the Asian Tour and through until the end of 2020 on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
Pilkadaris began the day hoping to break a 13-year winning drought which had included six runner-up finishes.
Having dined out on a birdie buffet for most of the week, he had to wait until the 11th hole before he recorded his first red number and then was helpless to stop Nisbet despite his outstanding 25-under total.
“I didn’t make enough birdies, it’s as simple as that. I didn’t make any mistakes, just didn’t hole the 10 footers that I had been making,” said Pilkadaris.
“At the start of the week if you’d said I’d shoot 25 under, you’d be like, ‘Yeah I’ll take that’. It’s disappointing not to win, but 62 to beat you, it’s one of those things.”
American Jarin Todd finished third at 22 under, while a shot further back and rounding out the top five were Kurt Kitayama (USA), David Bransdon (VIC) and Callan O’Reilly (NSW).