Date: December 10, 2017
Author: Golf Victoria

Woodlands victorious in a nail biter

It’s was yet another exciting finale in today’s Junior Pennant final as Woodlands and Riverside battled it out in chase for the 2017 honours at the Yarra Valley’s Eastern Golf Club. In October, 45 teams embarked on the round robin season and only two teams remained today.  

James McLaren from Woodlands was the first match that finished this morning with a convincing 6 and 5 victory. Amelie Dart-Fagan then added to the tally notching up another win on the very last hole taking Woodlands’ tally to two matches. However, solid performances from the later groups swung the tide and put Riverside a nose in front with 3 and 2 wins coming from George Carasavidis and Navindu Gunasekera while Vincent Nguyen closed with a strong 4 and 3 win. 

The last match on the course was that of Riversides Kaitlyn Adams and Woodlands’ Dylan Thomas. Thomas stood on the 16th tee with a two-hole advantage but by the time they walked off the 17 green it was all square. Needing another victory to tie the three matches already recorded by Riverside Thomas saved his very best for last. The 5-marker hadn’t made a birdie all day but that was about to change. A booming drive, followed by an impressive pitch shot to about 8 feet and then a brilliant putt saw him secure the match Woodlands’ desperately needed to take the total to three apiece. 

After a brilliant birdie on 18 Woodlands selected Thomas to be their representative in the sudden death playoff while Riverside chose young gun Navindu Gunasekera. Riverside had the honour on the first playoff hole and Gunasekera hit a penetrating drive just to the right-hand side of the fairway – ideal position to approach the green. The left-handed Thomas pulled his 3-wood to the right-hand side and finished in sparse rough about 1-foot in height. Gunasekera was the first play into the green and stuck his iron just left of the pin but about 20 feet long leaving a tricky downhill putt. Like his teammate Ben Steven in yesterday’s playoff, Thomas hit a career defining shot out of the long rough to about 12 feet for birdie. Riversides birdie attempt bushed the edge of the hole and ran about 5 feet below the cup. With some 30 onlookers and knowing too well that his putt would secure victory, Thomas stood over his putt for birdie, took a deep breath, and nailed it.

Woodlands came so close to claiming the Junior Pennant title in 2016 but fell short to Yarra Yarra on the day. This is the first time Woodlands has captured the Pennant and no doubt they will be hungry for more success come 2018.  

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Watch Dylan Thomas drain his birdie putt for the playoff win