Howard pulls off dramatic Australian win

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Paul Howard wins New South Wales Amateur Championship

England international Paul Howard produced a dramatic finish to win the New South Wales Amateur Championship on the 37th hole.

The 24-year-old trailed his Australian opponent over the closing holes at Avondale, near Sydney, but a crucial birdie, when he drove the green on the par four 35th hole, got him back on level terms.

“It was a golf grinder, a close match without many bogeys,” said the Southport & Ainsdale player. “The turning point was driving the green on the 17th to win the hole.”

Howard adds this title to the South African Champiosnship, which he won in 2014.

His success marked the end to a five-week tour of Australia by a trio of England Golf players and he said: “It was nice to get a win after playing so well for the trip. Now I’m looking forward to Spain and the European Nations Cup.”

Howard, who was the number two seed, had a fight on his hands throughout the final. His 18-year-old opponent David Micheluzzi made a fast start and was two under and two up after two holes.

Howard’s own birdie on the fourth narrowed the gap and he was back on level terms after sic holes. A further birdie on the ninth put him one up and he held that slender advantage until he conceded the 16th and then lost the 18th, to reach the halfway stage at one down.

He was only to get ahead in the match once more – when he lifted the trophy on the 37th.

‘It was a golf grinder’ Micheluzzi again set off in blistering style with birdies on 19 and 20 to get to three up. Howard answered with his own birdie on the 21st but, with seven holes to play, he was still trailing by two. He won the 30th and 31st holes to square matters, but lost the next to a birdie to again fall behind. However, he made his vital move with his 35th hole birdie and before long had the trophy in his hands.

Other members of the England Golf squad were English champion Nick Marsh, from Huddersfield, and Brabazon Trophy winner Ben Stow, from Rushmore. Both qualified for the New South Wales matchplay championship, but Marsh met Howard in the first round and Stow lost in the second.

Earlier in the trip, Howard claimed fifth place in the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne, signing off with a fourth round 66 which included six birdies on the back nine.

Nick Marsh became the Australian Amateur Championship medallist at eight under par in the stroke play qualifying and all three reached the matchplay stages. Ben Stow also secured a top 10 finish in the Lake Macquarie Amateur, finishing with a pair of 68s.

All three will represent England Golf in the European Nations Cup in Spain, from 18025 February, alongside double European champion Ashley Chesters, from Hawkstone Park.

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