27th – 29th October, 2023, Thurgoona Country Club

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GREEN SWEEP: Richard’s Run Leaves Field In His Wake

Sweet-swinging Richard Green swooped at the critical moment to win a thrilling New South Wales Senior Open at Thurgoona.

The Victorian had never led alone throughout the 54-hole event, but when his nearest rivals Jason Norris and Andre Stolz stumbled up the last, Green sensationally stood two clear.

Green crafted six birdies in a stellar closing 66, coming from four behind overnight leader Norris to win the $120,000 event, his first on the Australian Legends Tour.

He played “one of the best shots of my life” to a tough pin on the long par-3 second hole to set up a birdie that kick-started his charge.

But as closing rounds often demand, the shot that mattered the most was a spectacular par-saver – and Green’s came on the 17th.

Green Blasts from the bunker on the 16th to save par

He’d finally pulled even when Norris made a bogey on the 15th, but found himself over the par-4 in deepish rough and with a precariously small landing area ahead before the ball could have disappeared long and right, with his chances attached.

“It was a horrible shot to have, really,” Green said.

“Obviously to have a preferred lie gives you a chance to get it up in the air, but it was still tough and just so many questions about where to land it and how it would react (once it was) on the ground.

“So I just cut it up and tried to judge it without thinking too much. I just used feel and it came off, dug into the green nicely and rolled to three feet.

“I was pretty happy with that result, to be honest. To get away with par, that’s what probably won it for me in the end.”

Green put a quality roll on a birdie attempt from 5m on the last, but watched it slide by and again the destiny of the championship pivoted to Norris, still equal at 12 under.

But the Queensland-based South Australian had every golfer’s nightmare come true on the final tee.

Norris couldn’t hold on when it mattered most

Norris opted for a 3-wood for position, but instead of swinging through it as he had so effectively for 53 holes, he snap-hooked it out of bounds and his chance was gone.

“I haven’t done that for 30 years,” Norris lamented of his timing as the pressure applied by a wayward putter cruelly infiltrated the rest of his bag and ended in a triple-bogey seven.

“But that was just one shot and that happens. I should have been way (further) in front, but putted really badly and whether that played on my mind or not I don’t know, but I just hit a bad shot on 18 and that’s golf.

“I holed a nice putt or two in the first six or seven holes, but then I started hitting bad putts and that threw me out a little.

“I had 19 putts on the back nine, so you don’t deserve to win doing that, whether you birdie it or triple it.”

Stolz, who had traded early birdies with Norris, at 11 under needed a birdie of his own to force a playoff.

Andre Stolz made a late run but came up short

The Queensland-based New South Welshman thought he’d given himself a chance when he hit his final approach, only for it to “fly five yards too far” and leave himself an unlikely chip from the back fringe.

“I set my target to birdie the last two after coming up short at 16,” Stolz said.

“I got the job done on 17, then I thought hit a great (approach) shot into 18, but it was just a bit of a flyer.

“That was a tough chip into the grain and it was a bit wet, so it was hard to get it to the hole, then I just missed that little (par) putt. But it was done by then.

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“I didn’t play too bad early on, but I’ve been battling a few injuries and my knee hurt like hell for three or four holes there today and it just slowed me down a little in the middle (of the round).”

Stolz’s five dropped him two back at 10 under, but was enough for second place one clear of Norris.

But the day belonged to Green and his coach and caddie Darrell Brown.

“I didn’t really think too much about it (winning) because I thought I might have been a little too far back, but I’m absolutely thrilled to win,” said the champion, who’s about to embark on his long-held quest to play the final stages of Champions Tour qualifying School in the USA.

“Browny and I have been working really hard on my game for a long time and this is such a good confidence building thing right at the best time.

“It’s really satisfying to see our work paying off, especially against such a great field like this.”

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