After his first strike of the day it was “just another game of golf” for Tasmanian Simon Hawkes, until he got a wake-up call on the 15th tee.
Rookie pro Harrison Endycott was two groups ahead on Sunday afternoon at 13th Beach and more importantly, ahead on the leaderboard.
Hawkes, the 54-hole leader of the 2018 Oates Vic Open by one shot, had seen playing partners Steven Jeffress and Cory Crawford succumb to the Barwon Heads breeze and the unforgiving Beach Course.
But after matching Endycott’s birdie at 15 the fairytale of a four-year touring pro – whose car is filled with clothes, loaded on to the Spirit Of Tasmania and used as a means of getting from pro-am to pro-am – was nearly dashed.
A player with a confidence and class so frequently seen in Australia’s brightest young stars, Endycott’s clinical birdie at the par-5 18th capped off a bogey-free 6-under 66 and took him one shot clear at 14-under for the week.
But Hawkes wouldn’t go away, he backed up a clutch par at the 17th with exactly what was required at the 72nd hole – a birdie four for a 68 that would force Endycott back on course for extra holes.
With both players dumping their second shots into the front-right bunker, Hawkes left himself 12-foot from the behind the pin for the biggest win of his life.
One sweet stroke later and Hawkes’ ball was destined for the hole, delivering a life-changing win that even he probably didn’t see coming.
“I had no idea what Harrison was doing until I stepped on the 15th tee and I was like ‘Okay, I’m back’,” said Hawkes with his silverware by his side.
“It wasn’t really until I saw that putt was dead centre with about three inches to go, that was probably the moment.
“In the moment, doing it, it didn’t really feel much different. Obviously grandstands full of people and things like that.
“I was just playing golf. It really doesn’t feel like I’m a different golfer than I was on Monday.”
After missing the cut, fellow pro Jordan Mullaney took Hawkes’ bag for the final round and the pair knuckled down on Sunday, committing to their final round game plan.
While Mullaney can now expect an injection of cash – albeit unknown – into his bank account soon, his chances of teeing it up next week at the World Super 6 Perth have taken a hit.
“He played this week and unfortunately he missed the cut. I don’t know exactly what the financial arrangement is going to be for this week but we’ll see how we go!” laughed Hawkes.
“Unfortunately he’s third reserve for the Perth Super 6s so I’ve knocked him out of a spot! So that’s going to be an awkward car ride home to Melbourne.”
The biggest deposit into Hawkes’ own bank account came after a win at a Super 6s pro-am last week in Ballarat – a $4,500 payout that would have previously seemed significant.
After claiming his first victory on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia and a six-figure sum, Hawkes is still plotting an assault at European Tour Q-School at the end of the year – but nothing else extravagant.
“I don’t think I’ve made more than 30 grand since leaving his school,” Hawkes said.
“I guess it’s just a number on a computer screen, I’m not going to take it all out and sit with it in a bath tub.”
“I imagine my mum and dad were at home watching the live stream, I can’t imagine what the Hawkes household is like right now,” he said.
“I haven’t even turned on my phone, I think it’s going to explode. It’s going to be pretty wild when I get home from Perth.”
Now Simon Hawkes can “forever” claim to be a winner on the PGA Tour of Australasia. Expect the wake-up calls to continue for a few days yet.
“It’s the first time in my life I’ve been asked for an autograph,” laughed Hawkes.
“I was going to be on the Spirit Of Tasmania tomorrow night with my car and I was probably going to sit on the couch and play X-Box for three days.
“Now I’m going to play a European Tour event.”