Victorian Andrew Martin has broken through for the biggest win of his professional career but it took a world record four eagles and his lowest score in 15 years on tour to do it.
Beginning the final round of The Players Series Sydney eight shots from the top of the leaderboard, Martin sent statisticians and leaderboard attendants into a frenzy with a front nine at Bonnie Doon Golf Club that featured four eagles, a birdie and a bogey to draw within striking distance of overnight leader Charlie Dann.
Three bogeys in succession by Dann after the turn saw Martin edge clear and when he completed his 10-under 61 with a birdie at the 18th hole set a clubhouse total of 18-under for the likes of Dann and Jordan Zunic to chase.
A birdie at the par-5 14th brought Dann back to within one but a birdie chance at 17 that came up inches shy of the cup and a final chance at 18 that never threatened the hole secured Martin a win that will live long in the history books.
His score of 61 is believed to be the lowest final round to win in the history of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and he joins the likes of Gordon Brand Jnr (1986), Willie Wood (1990), Scott McCarron (1995), Mikko Ilonen (2003) and Haotong Li (2019) to record four eagles in a single round on a major tour.
His three eagles in succession from the seventh hole also matches the effort of Finland’s Toni Hakula at the Abierto de Chile in 2019, the only player to achieve the feat in any PGA Tour-sanctioned tour event.
The 2004 Australian Amateur champion has been a prolific winner in pro-am events since turning professional in 2005 but at 36 years of age was struggling to put into words what such a victory represented.
“It’s still a bit of a whirlwind,” Martin explained. “To shoot 10-under, that’s still hard to get through my head, but mainly just the support of my family and my wife Rachel has given me to be able to keep doing this because it is tough in Australia to make a living here.
“I’ve never really fallen out of love with the game. I’ve always wanted to do it and if I was ever going to stop playing it would be a hard pill to swallow because I still feel there is a lot I want to achieve.
“This is one little box ticked but there a couple more I want to do. It’s just good to show that my game is still there.”
Runner-up at both the NZ PGA and Queensland PGA in 2012, Martin’s Sunday charge began when he holed a pitching wedge for eagle on the 386-metre par-4 third and backed it up with a birdie at the par-4 fourth. A bogey at the par-3 sixth was the only misstep on Sunday and was followed by a stretch of golf rarely seen anywhere in the world.
Two good shots into the par-5 seventh set up an eagle from pin-high, he chipped in from the front-edge at the 268m par-4 eighth and picked up his sixth shot in the space of three holes when he chipped in from the left of the green at the par-5 ninth.
It was at that point that the prospect of winning the tournament – and shooting the magical 59 – first entered Martin’s mind.
“After eight when I chipped in there I thought, I’ve got to be close,” said Martin after his best round in a tour event and second only to a 59 he shot in a Saturday comp at his home club Neangar Park.
“I just wanted to shoot a good score to be honest. Try and jump up the leaderboard and four eagles obviously helped that.
“After I holed the putt on 11 I thought I must have been right up there.
“Without having scorecards you don’t have it there to look at every time you open your yardage book and see your score.
“You can click the leaderboard on your phone but I decided to just keep doing what I was doing and then sign the screen when I got in.”
Philosophical about being run down by such an extraordinary round of golf, Dann remained positive about his performance over the four days at Bonnie Doon but admitted that he struggled to jump off once he boarded the dreaded ‘bogey train’ at the 10th hole.
“It’s definitely called the bogey train for a reason; that train was moving,” said Dann in what is his best result in a PGA Tour of Australasia event.
“Things spiralled for me at the eighth by hitting that chip into the grain and didn’t make the contact I wanted. I was also fighting for a par on the next, the par 5, which has been good to me this week.
“Things just went from there and in this game when you’re in a bit of a spiral times the pressure of the situation, it just kept happening and I was trying to work for a par.
“Very different experience for me for sure.”
It was a new experience too for Elvis Smylie who climbed into a share of third in his debut professional event with a final round of 6-under 65 for a four-round total of 15-under, level with Australian Amateur champion Louis Dobbelaar, Brett Rankin, Shae Wools-Cobb and Jordan Zunic.
A third successive round of 1-under 70 saw amateur Grace Kim finish as the best female in the field in a tie for 28th while Kogarah Golf Club’s Ali Rachid completed a wire-to-wire win of the TPS Junior Invitational, a second round of 2-over 73 giving him a three-shot buffer from Fletcher Murray, Jye Halls, Daley Loumanis and Blake Phillips.