NELSON, New Zealand (April 27, 2014) -- Manawatu golfer Josh Munn has claimed what he called the “biggest win of my career” when he secured an incredible come-from-behind victory at the New Zealand Amateur Championship.
The New Zealand rep rallied on the homeward stretch to defeat Auckland golfer Tae Koh on the 37th hole in cold and windy conditions at the Nelson Golf Club in what will be remembered as one of the great finals.
Munn, who has won twice on the Charles Tour, and claimed the prized Lake Macquarie Amateur in Australia, was in disbelief to be the last man standing as the New Zealand Amateur Champion.
“This is the trophy that I have always wanted to win,” said the 23-year-old.
“Ever since I was 13 years old I have talked about winning the NZ Amateur with my coach Andre [White] and to do it is just unbelievable. It is without doubt the biggest win of my career.”
With 10 holes to play Munn was three down and it looked like Koh was on track to make history and complete the rare double of the Australian Amateur and NZ Amateur titles in the same year.
But no one told Munn. He eagled the 27th hole and then birdied the 28th hole to get back to 1down. Koh hung tough and played like the man to beat coming home.
As the southerly wind grew in strength, and made the course incredibly tough, Munn grew in confidence and had the momentum in the deciding stretch of the match.
“I just kept telling myself to believe I could do it. It was hard because Tae is probably the most solid player in New Zealand Golf right now. I knew that he wasn’t going to give it to me. I had to take it off him and that is what I did.”
He got it back to all square with a par on the 31st hole, lost the 33rd and then won the 34th. The match remained all square until the 36th hole where Koh flubbed his chip shot from behind the green into the bunker. He almost holed his bunker shot but he had handed the advantage to the NZ rep.
Munn had a putt from nine feet to seal the win but it went sliding by.
The National Academy player delivered his best in the playoff. He had a putt from 25 feet for birdie which he left short of the hole at tap-in range. When Koh, who had found trouble from the tee, missed his nine foot putt for par the match was over.
“It was playing so tough in the wind but I am used to those conditions and I felt like that really helped me.
“My mind went blank on the putt I had in regulation to win. I have played so much golf in the last four or five days I lost it there for a bit but I came back well and to get it done on the next hole was pleasing.”
Munn cannot wait to get back to the Manawatu Golf Club to celebrate with his club-mates.
“How big is the trophy?” he asked with a smile. “I am looking forward to filling it up with beer with the boys and celebrating this moment. There are so many people to thank for getting me here.”
He said all of the hours of practice and preparing for this victory were worth it.
“It has been a long time coming but all of the hard work and every event to finally get my first national amateur title, it is all worth it.”
Munn becomes the first player from the Manawatu Golf Club to claim the prized silverware since JP Hornabrook in 1936.
He follows in the footsteps of many of the legends of New Zealand Golf, the likes of Stu Jones, John Durry, Frank Nobilo, Phil Tataurangi and in more recent time Danny Lee.
“It is pretty overwhelming to put my name in the record books alongside them. I am humbled really. I am really proud of what I have achieved in winning this and hopefully my career can follow what those guys have achieved.”
Munn’s success cost Koh the chance of becoming the first Kiwi to win both the New Zealand Amateur and Australian Amateur in the same year.
“I always thought it would go all the way to the end and it did, all the way to the 37th hole,” said Koh.
“He played great. I lost my mojo on the 9th, 10th and 11th hole and he capitlaised in that period. I came back pretty well in the final few holes but a few loose shots cost me my chance to win.”
Australian Matt Jager remains the only golfer in the history of both events (1893 for the NZ Amateur and 1894 for the Australian Amateur) who has completed the double in the same year when he achieved it in 2010.
The history of New Zealand Golf won’t show it but Koh came within a few inches of joining him.
It took a quality opponent to stop him and Joshua Munn delivered the finest moment of his career. His long wait to secure a national title was well worth it on the biggest stage of amateur golf in New Zealand.