Former Moama resident Jack Wilson became the first trainee professional to win a PGA Tour of Australasia title after he was victorious at Kalgoorlie on Sunday.By Geordie Cowan
Moama’s Jack Wilson (pictured) took a huge step in his golfing career when he won Western Australian PGA on Sunday.
The third-year Kingswood Golf Club trainee professional needed a play-off to seal his first professional victory, defeating New Zealand’s Nick Gillespie in the first extra hole at Kalgoorlie golf course after both finished the four-day event on 10 under par.
Wilson led the championship from start to finish and, in doing so, became the first trainee to ever win a PGA Tour of Australasia title.
The former Echuca College student and Rich River Golf Club member led from the first round of the tournament after shooting a 67, with a 68 the following day seeing him hold a one-shot lead.
After a chaotic third round he led by three shots after shooting 71, with Gillespie, Adam Bland and James Nitties all within striking distance.
Wilson started the final round well, before a dramatic double-bogey on the 15th hole took him back level with his rivals, before steadying to stay in the hunt and ultimately win the championship.
The 22-year-old said he experienced a combination of relief and excitement when he secured the win.
‘‘I think it is only still sinking in now what the win means,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘The relief of getting it over and done with, which was great, but at the same time I wanted to do it all again because it was so good.’’
The result will provide a big boost to his career progression, he said.
‘‘This opens a lot of doors,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘It was a good pay cheque, but that means nothing compared to the doors it opens.
‘‘Thanks to the win I am straight into the Perth International, which is a $2m event co-sanctioned with the European Tour.’’
The win also means he is automatically entered into the Australian PGA, the Australian Masters, the Australian Open and also has conditional status for the OneAsia tour.
Playing only his second PGA tournament of the year, said it was a nervous time approaching the final few holes, especially after leading the tournament for much of its duration.
‘‘The first three rounds are part of the process — the last round is the most important one,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘Everything gets a little more heated until the last nine and six holes, when everything sort of happens.’’
Sticking to the processes which had worked throughout the tournament were vital in those stages, especially after the double-bogey.
‘‘I kept doing the exact routines in the previous rounds and leading up to the tournament,’’ he said.
‘‘I would look at the putt and know that I had already done it 10 times this tournament.
‘‘I would go back on that, do the pre-shot routine, read the green, step over the ball, make sure my breathing was steady and make those really good putts.
‘‘And that was the tournament, those putts I made.’’
A big help to his mind-set was his ability to relax when not playing, staying with two good friends and billeted with a family.
‘‘I could go and switch off, have a laugh and a chat, muck around, do our stretching and set up for the next day,’’ he said.
‘‘If I had been staying on my own and just look at the leaderboard and who I was playing, it would have been much more difficult.
‘‘But the first day I knew I was hitting as good or better than everyone else.’’
Wilson’s success has not come of the blue though, having put in a large amount of work over the past few years.
‘‘The hard work is definitely paying off, and I have seen it over the last three, four, five years,’’ he said.
‘‘The more work I put in, the better the rewards are.’’
Wilson said his workload had been increased 10-fold this year, with extra work on top of what is required of him as a third-year trainee after entering a VIS scholarship.
‘‘It’s great to know the work I’ve been doing has been the right stuff and it is paying off,’’ he said.
‘‘It is just going to drive me to keep working again.
‘‘To know if I keep doing that, keep working myself up, I can keep working towards that goal of playing internationally.’’
The win comes after an impressive series of results for the youngster, who was named the number one trainee in Australia last year.
‘‘That is an achievement I was working towards, but it was definitely hard because not many people had won it as a second-year trainee,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘It is something I want to do again this year and be one of the few guys to go back-to-back.’’
Wilson, who also has a full-time sponsorship with Titleist, had many people to thank for their support, including his parents and the rest of his family after moving out of home four years ago.
He also thanked his girlfriend, Shepparton’s Steph Lindner, who ‘‘has been massive’’, as well as Kingswood, the VIS and everyone at Rich River and in Echuca-Moama.
‘‘They have been supporting me all along, getting messages from people back at home, whether I played them or know through school,’’ Wilson said.
‘‘They are always congratulating and supporting me, so a big thanks to everyone back home.’’
He also has a keen supporter in tour professional Marcus Fraser, who plays at Kingswood.
‘‘He is definitely someone I look up to and anytime I need advice, he is my first point of call,’’ he said.
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