Jason Norris used some distraction techniques and an aggressive mindset to triumph at the Nova Employment Australian Senior PGA Championship on Sunday at Richmond Golf Club.
Firing a second straight round of 6-under-par 64 to reach 14-under-par for the week, Norris secured a five-shot win over Peter Lonard and Stephen Allan to join the likes of Lee Trevino, Orville Moody, Peter Fowler, Rodger Davis and Peter Senior on the trophy.
“What an event to win … I’m so excited,” Norris said clutching the trophy and looking at the names to come before him.
“I just saw a name that I was lucky enough to have a lunch with, Billy Dunk. He’s on it a couple of times.
“What an event, anything with ‘Australian’ in front of it is awesome.”
Out in the last group of the day as the joint overnight leader with Lonard, things fell favourably for Norris early when he birdied the par-4 3rd immediately after Lonard made just his second bogey of the week at the short par-3 2nd.
Continuing to press ahead and put some space between himself and the chasing pack, Norris added birdies at the 6th and 7th despite admitting his usually stellar iron play was well below its typical standard.
As the South Australian-born, now Queensland-based Norris was moving deeper into red figures, the man who appeared to be his main challenger was stuck on a 10-hole par streak as Lonard burned the edge of the cup with regularity after finding almost every green with his exemplary ball striking.
The very recently turned 50 Allan, back home from the United States, started to make his move in the group ahead when Norris finally gave some hope to the rest of the field that he was indeed human after all.
A surprising three-putt bogey, also his second for the week, at the 11th offered the slightest glimmer that nerves would get the better of him on the back nine.
Getting the shot back on the next with a mid-range putt, Norris looked relieved before Lonard finally made a birdie at 13 to produce a passionate cheer from the crowd and slight concern for Norris.
“It was very tough, and he started playing really well on the back nine, the normal Pete that we know, he can just sling birdies on every hole coming home,” Norris said of Lonard.
“So I just tried to stick to one shot at a time and just enjoy the day.”
Enjoy he did as Norris pulled away with a hat-trick of birdies starting at the 15th, the former Fiji International winner reaching the 18th tee with a four-shot lead. An advantage that would become five after Allan dropped a shot following a miscue trying to drive the final green and apply some pressure.
Norris stuck with his aggressive approach by taking driver on the 54th and final hole as he continued to distract himself with thoughts of other events to help temper nerves.
“I think a good thing for me is last night I decided to, in the back of my mind, think about the Australian PGA and the Australian Open, just a chance to get into there, this might help my chance,” he said.
“That was a good way to take my mind off this event.”
A brilliant shot to the front edge of the green and a straightforward par was the result, with Lonard resigned to finishing runner-up at the Australian PGA Senior Championship for a third time while Norris was presented with the trophy by past champion and PGA of Australia Chairman Rodger Davis.
“He’s the king isn’t he? What a legend,” Norris said.
“He’s also on the trophy as well. Nice of him to come and celebrate with us. “
2022: Richard Green
2021: Guy Wall
2020: Andre Stolz
2019: Peter Senior
Photo: New champion Jason Norris with PGA of Australian chairman Rodger Davis and Nova Employment’s Kerry Spindler