Jasper Stubbs, winner of tthe Asia-Pacific Amateur Championships, wno now quaklifies for the Masters and the Open in 2024
Melbourne, Oct 29: Jasper Stubbs hit the first shot of the 14th Asia-Pacific Championships on Thursday and signalled its end by tapping the last putt to win a three-way play-off in the most dramatic manner. His win also meant he had punched his ticket to two of the most coveted Majors, the Augusta Masters and the Open.
After 72 holes over four days at the unforgiving and challenging the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Stubbs was tied with the Chinese duo, Zheng Sampson Yunhe (75) and Ding Wenyi (70) at 1-over 285. He then produced two great putts, one each in the two play-off holes, to complete the greatest win of his amateur career. The trio was tied at 1-over 285 and it became the first-ever over par score for a winner.
“Those two putts were just ‘nuts’, ” said Stubbs, who holed a snaking 20-foot downhill putt on the first extra hole for a birdie. Then on the second play-off hole he curled a putt three times longer than the first one to three inches for a tap-in par to win.
“My caddie (Simon Clarke) and I had actually talked on Thursday morning, that it would be awesome to hit the first shot and putt for a win. And it happened. It was awesome,” said Stubbs.
From an Indian point of view, Shaurya Bhattacharya and Yuvraj Singh carded even par 71 in a week when just over 11 per cent of the rounds played this week yielded scores of par or better.
Shaurya said, “To be able to get par rounds on the second and fourth days was a big relief. I was disappointed after the first round (83), but the fightback from there gives me a lot of confidence. This is probably the toughest golf course I have played. I will soon be turning professional, and this week gives me a boost ahead of that.”
Yuvraj, undecided on when to take the plunge to become a pro, said, “It gives me a good feeling to finish the week with at least one par round on such a challenging course.”
The top Indian was US Collegiate golfer Shubham Jaglan (74) at 14-over in Tied-28th place as Shaurya, who made the cut on the line after two rounds, was Tied-31. Yuvraj Singh (71) and Raghav Chugh (76) were Tied-36th.
The 13-year-old Kartik Singh (77), who created a record by becoming the youngest player to make the cut at the AAC, struggled over the weekend and finished T-57.
Stubbs, who was six behind the leader, Sampson, at the start of the day, drifted further after two bogeys in the first six holes. Yet, he rallied with four birdies in the last 12 holes to get to 2-under for the day and set a target of 1-over 285. That was equalled by his playing partner Ding Wenyi, who began the day one ahead of Stubbs.
Stubbs, who lives less than two miles from the course, revealed he has played this course often over the last 6-7 years with a friend who is a member at the Royal Melbourne.
Stubbs, who turns 22 in six weeks, seemed out of the race after he early bogeys. Yet he came back for a 69, that equalled second-best card of the day and was bettered only by another Australian, Quinnton Crocker, who after being 14-over for three rounds, finished T-19.
Sampson just did not bring his ‘A’ game. After an even par front nine, he gave away four bogeys against one birdie on the back nine. That opened the door for others to walk in. He did produce a great bunker shot for a par on 18th to join the play-off at 1-over 285.
No one had birdied the 18th on the final day, but Stubbs, building on his stunning back nine, holed a big birdie putt on the first play-off. Ding followed suit with a matching birdie into the heart of the hole. Sampson failed and was eliminated.
In the second play-off hole, Stubbs produced another stunner, a first putt from almost 60 feet which curved and found the right path to the cup but stopped three inches short. Making it even more dramatic was Ding, whose par putt hit the cup and stayed out. Stubbs tapped home and it was time to check flights to the Augusta National next April and the Royal Troon in July 2024.
Stubbs is the fourth Australian winner of the Championship and follows in the footsteps of Antonio Murdaca, who won at Royal Melbourne in 2014, as well as Curtis Luck, who won in South Korea in 2016 and Harrison Crowe, who won last year in Thailand.