Deyen Lawson wins Nexus Advisernet WA Open in dramatic fashion

Victorian Deyen Lawson has survived a nervous back-nine wobble to win the Nexus Advisernet WA Open in Perth by two strokes.

Media release by Tony Webeck at PGA of Australia

From his opening day eight-under 62 Lawson’s name sat atop the leaderboard, arriving at The Western Australian Golf Club on Sunday with an eight-shot advantage.

That lead got to as much as nine on the front nine of the final round yet two back-nine bogeys and a double bogey three holes from home brought 2019 champion Michael Sim to within four.

When Sim holed a birdie putt from five feet on 18 Lawson’s lead was just two as he lined up his second shot from the left rough.

His trusty 3-wood put him within 20 metres of the front of the green, a chip and two putts ending a nerve-wracking round of one-over 71 for a two-shot win and a first victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.

“It’s not easy. It never is. I’ve won some smaller events and it’s never easy,” said Lawson, a four-time runner-up on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

“Sometimes if you’re that far in front… you try not to have thoughts creep in but I just kept pushing and pushing.

“Through nine I might have got nine shots ahead and then thought, Now just hang on. Which was not the right thing to do.

“In future I know that if I’ve ever got a good lead I need to just keep pushing until I finish. Really keep firing.

“I’ve seen too many times everywhere in the world, guys let big leads slip. Until it’s in, anything can happen.

“Even the three-and-a-half footer I had on 18, I only had to two-putt but I wanted to make sure I made it so it’s done.”

Sim’s equal-best round of the day – six-under 64 – earned him outright second at 18-under, Queenslander Chris Wood (66) third at 16-under and Sydney amateur Jeffrey Guan (68) fourth, his best finish in a professional event and winner of the Terry Gale Cup as low amateur.

Winner of the tournament over 54-holes three years ago, Sim’s pre-tournament score prediction proved prescient as he fell just two shots short of an extraordinary comeback.

“I remember saying at the pro-am lunch, that if you got to 20 (under) you’d win. That obviously happened,” said Sim.

“I’m just happy with how I played the last couple of weeks after not much golf.”

Guan laid down an early challenge to Lawson’s supremacy with a sublime tee shot at the par-4 first, converting his birdie from just outside a foot to reduce the deficit by one.

Now based on the Gold Coast, Sim had four birdies and a bogey in his first five holes to also draw within seven and would emerge as Lawson’s greatest threat as the back nine unfolded.

Lawson drove the green at the par-4 third and two-putted for birdie to reach 22-under and then matched the 23-under tournament record score set by Ryan Fox at Cottesloe in 2014 with an up-and-down from the front of the par-5 sixth green.

Heavy showers that intermittently swept across the course posed an additional problem, particularly for Guan who was without a caddie or an umbrella.

It did little to slow Lawson, however, a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-4 seventh taking him to 24-under and a nine-shot buffer.

Sim’s brilliant tee shot at the par-3 ninth set up a birdie to move into outright second at 16-under but Lawson remained eight clear of the field as he made the turn.

A sand save from the short side at 10 ensured Lawson stayed at 24-under but his first bogey of the day and Sim’s birdie in the group ahead reduced the gap to six at the par-4 12th.

That gap shrunk to five when Sim rolled in a birdie from 10 feet at the 311-metre par-4 14th to move to 18-under and what seemed an insurmountable lead was reduced to four when Lawson three-putted for bogey at 14.

The fist pump that followed Lawson’s three-footer for birdie at 15 was a rare show of emotion but more drama was to follow.

Sim made bogey after missing the green left of the par-3 16th to fall six shots back only for Lawson to three-putt for double bogey at 16, the margin back to four with two to play.

A tee shot wide right on 17 forced Lawson to punch out to the fairway and he was unable to get up-and-down, his fifth dropped shot in the space of six holes sending him to the 72nd tee with a three-stroke lead.

Sim’s birdie gave Lawson just two shots to play with to complete a wire-to-wire win, the nervy par putt from inside four feet completing a deserved win.

In the WA Open All Abilities Championship New South Welshman Cameron Pollard completed the WA double in dominant fashion.

Rounds of 75-74 saw Pollard finish 15 shots clear of fellow Sawtell Golf Club member Lachlan Smith, providing the perfect tune-up to the Australian All Abilities Championship as part of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open from December 1-4.

“Very happy with how I played this week. Didn’t do too much wrong out there, just let everything happen,” said Pollard.

“The last couple of weeks have been good, especially this week. I found a bit of form in my game; it’s been a bit off of late.

“Really looking forward to the Aussie Open in a few weeks; be nice to come away with the win.”

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