Nailbiting finish as Australian Matthew Griffin takes title on the 18th

Australian Matthew Griffin has claimed the New Zealand Open with a clutch birdie on the final hole of the tournament.

Starting the day two shots behind Japan’s Hideto Tanihara, Griffin opened his final round by eagling the first.

With nerves settled, Griffin went head to head with Tanihara all day but found himself one behind his competitor with three holes to play.

A clutch birdie at the last, where Tanihara made bogey, saw Griffin claim the title and his sixth win as a Professional in New Zealand’s premier golf tournament.

Griffin fired 5-under 67 in the final round to post a winning total of 20-under 267 in front of his parents who had travelled overseas to watch him play for the first time.

Hideto Tanihara was disappointed to have ended his campaign with a bogey, but overall enjoyed his first trip to Queenstown.

Finishing tied for third and six shots off the lead was leading New Zealander Michael Hendry and Japan’s Shunsuke Sonoda.

Yoshinori Fujimoto (JPN) finished outright 5th on 13-under 274 with Steven Alker (NZL) a further shot back.

Rounding out the top-10 on 11-under the card are Australians Deyen Lawson, Todd Sinnott, Matthew Giles and Rory Bourke.

Taking out the pro-am component of the BMW ISPS HANDA New Zealand Open were Deyen Lawson and his amateur partner Anton Booy. Daniel Hillier finsihed as low amateur.

For his win today Griffin picks up NZ$180,000 which provides him with the top billing on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit.

In the ANZ Celebrity Challenge, Australia beat New Zealand convincingly by 20 to 12, but Kiwi spirits weren’t dampened by the end result.

Playing on the last day in place of ANZ Celebrity Challenge team member Shane Cortese, Prime Minister John Key – up against scratch Australian player Ricky Ponting – said he’d had a great time at what he called an “amazing” tournament.

“I love the atmosphere, the crowd really enjoys it, and it’s great to be part of an event that showcases New Zealand to the world,” he said.

“I’m really surprised Ricky Ponting’s not in with the pros! He very rarely makes a mistake.”

Winning Australian team captain Allan Border described his team’s success as “a very popular win”.

“These are absolutely awesome golf courses and it’s the best week you can have playing golf,” he said. “I had one of those freak days when it all came together on the right day and yes, we’ll be back.”

Challenge players included Stephen Fleming, Brendon McCullum, Justin Marshall, Shane Cortese, Border, Ponting, Glenn Robbins and Ivan Cleary.

The BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open is a Tier One event on the PGA Tour of Australasia, in partnership with the Japan Golf Tour.

Quick Quotes

Matthew Griffin, 70, 65, 65, 67, 20-under 267, champion

“I just hit driver and hit it hard down the right. I thought I hit it on the perfect line, it gave a right kick and it must have snuck down. In the end I had the perfect yardage; I hit a wedge to a nice close range, long enough to still miss, so it was nice to roll it in. With Tanihara it was a bit unfortunate as his drive just rolled over and went into the rough.”

“It was the most nervous I’ve been, I did a lot of deep breathing on the green and it was a nice putt.”

“You’re always nervous on the first tee, I hit a couple of shots in close and it really settled the nerves.”

“I took on 16 and 17 as I knew I was behind and hit good spots but came up with pars – the last was a great way to finish.”

“My girlfriend Liz, family and friends are here, the celebrations are going to be pretty big. It’s the first time that my parents have travelled overseas to see me play and it’s the biggest amount of people I’ve had at any event and there will be a drink out of that trophy before the night is over!”

“This is by far the biggest event I’ve won. To win the New Zealand Open, it’s got so many good names on the trophy, it’s a real step forward for me.”

Hideto Tanihara, 69, 66, 63, 70, 19-under 268, runner-up

“When it went in the bunker I thought it would be ok. I wasn’t particularly worried and it wasn’t a shock.”

“However, the last putt I had I thought it was going to go in and I just came up a bit too short, which was a shame.”

“That’s the way that golf goes, there are many good players here out of 144 only one can win. I would like to try the same challenge again in the future.”

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