Australia has completed an undefeated final day to claim the Four Nations Cup for the first time at Moonah Links on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
Trailing the PGA of South Africa team by just half a point through the opening two days, PGA of Australia captain Scott Laycock rallied his troops with a simple message on the eve of the final fourball matches: Win both and we can’t lose.
Facing the PGA of Australia International team for the third day of competition, TJ King and Jayden Cripps both recorded convincing wins in their singles matches as Laycock and Brad McLellan each grabbed half a point with halved matches.
With South Africa securing only 1.5 points in their morning singles against the PGA of New Zealand, that gave Australia a one-point lead moving into the afternoon fourballs.
Sticking with the same combinations that yielded two wins against New Zealand the day prior, Laycock and McLellan wrapped up a full point with a dominant 6&5 win over Lee Owens and Mostyn Farmer.
That put Australia two points ahead with three matches still on course, King and Cripps closing out a win for the home nation with a 2&1 win over David Tapping and Gavin Coyle.
The only member of the team who played 12 months ago in South Africa, King finished the week with five points from six matches and is now undefeated in six singles matches across both stagings of the Four Nations Cup.
“It’s hard to say but it feels pretty cool. Bloody cool,” said King, who sealed the win with a par putt on the 17th hole.
“Especially after last year and coming up one short… but to do it with these boys, this week is just unreal.
“We knew we had to come out and win convincingly and to not lose a match on the last day is pretty special.”
After completing their victory, Laycock and McLellan joined King and Cripps on the 12th hole to lend moral support for the final stretch.
Two holes earlier, it was Cripps who delivered the putt that turned momentum the way of the home side.
“We were square through nine holes and on 10 Jayden holed a 10-foot par putt to keep it square,” said King.
“We really rode off the back of that. Won 12 and then a couple more holes straight after that so that was definitely the change in momentum right there.
“You can build just as much momentum from halving a hole as you can from winning a hole with a birdie.
“That definitely worked for us.”
With the see-sawing nature of the match ahead, South Africa held out hope heading into the back nine of their matches against New Zealand that they could draw level on the points tally with two wins of their own.
They needed King and Cripps to win only half a point to be a chance but ultimately lost both of their matches to finish third, New Zealand surging into second spot with a 4.5-point haul on the final day.
The focus now for King turns to the PGA Professionals National Championship at The Heritage Golf and Country Club from October 17-19 and a top-two finish that would earn a third Four Nations Cup berth.
Final standings Total W H L
Australia 12.5 11 3 4
New Zealand 11.0 10 2 6
South Africa 9.5 9 1 8
Australia International 3.0 2 2 14
Caption: The victorious PGA of Australia team of Jayden Cripps, TJ King, Scott Laycock and Brad McLellan. Photo: Monica Marchesani