Date: September 19, 2011

Griffin wins maiden Tour title

Golf Australia Rookie Squad member Matt Griffin won the inaugural South Pacific Golf Open Championship on the weekend – marking his first victory since turning professional at the end of 2008. Griffin won the PGA Tour of Australasia event with a wedge approach on the second playoff hole that danced around the cup and settled to three-feet. The Victorian traded blows with the ever-consistent Terry Pilkadaris over what proved to be a memorable finishing 20 holes of tournament golf. The win comes as great relief to Griffin who has often been described as the Tour bridesmaid after recording so many Top 10 finishes in his short but extremely successful professional career. It would be fair to say that this win lifts the monkey off the back. I have put myself in winnable positions a few times since turning pro in 2008 and it comes as a great relief to finally finish one off said the relieved Griffin. The Victorian overcame passport issues to arrive in Noumea less than 24 hours before his round 1 tee-time. After walking the course early Thursday morning Griffin decided to take the approach of one shot at a time, having little chance to formulate a game plan for his opening round. His relaxed approach paid dividends with three rounds in the 60s following his opening round of two-under par 70. Griffin was able to brush aside a disappointing four-foot miss on the last hole of regulation play, to ignite the crowd with an uphill 35-foot monster that matched Pilkadaris three-foot tap in birdie at the first playoff hole. Making their way back to the 18th tee for the second time, Griffin and Pilkadaris again found the middle of the fairway with both having under 100 metres to a difficult back pin. After pushing his approach to the right, Pilkadaris watched Griffin emulate his first playoff hole heroics as he stuck his approach to three-foot for a simple tap-in birdie. Pilkadaris was unable to make his birdie attempt from 30-foot and could do nothing but watch on as Griffin secured his first win as a professional golfer. Griffin said I had 70 metres to the pin which was a perfect wedge for me. I felt comfortable over the ball and even more confident in the type of shot I had to play, it was great to see the crowd s reaction when the ball landed . With plenty of birdies out there to be had, the people of New Caledonia were treated to aggressive golf and plenty of movement at the top of the leader board. Leading the chase group was former Victorian Open winner Jason Norris who finished his round with four-straight birdies to post the clubhouse lead at 14-under par. Joining Norris in the Top 5 were Pacific Island specialist Brad Shilton and tour rookie and another Golf Australia Rookie Squad member Jason Scrivener who both posted final rounds of 2-under par 70 to trail Griffin and Pilkadaris by two and three shots respectively. 16-year old Zac Stolz, son of former US Tour player Andre, triumphed as the leading amateur in his first ever PGA Tour of Australasia event. Stolz struggled in his final round to post a four-over par 76 but after taking a five-shot lead into the round, did enough to edge out 14-year old amateur Dennis Hugo by four-shots. What a week it has been, I feel I have learnt a lot about Tournament golf and how to handle myself in a professional event. I look forward to playing some more over the summer to hopefully further improve my ability to compete with some of Australia s best golfers said an exhausted Stolz.