Duntryleague’s James Conran claimed his maiden NAB Country Club Open title last weekend, holding a narrow lead overnight before blitzing the field in Sunday’s second round to eventually secure an emphatic seven-shot win.
His three-over 71 in the first round gave him a one-shot, overnight lead from Duntryleague’s Rob Parfett and Wentworth’s Dan McLeigh which set up a potentially thrilling finish on day two, the tournament’s seeded draw grouping the trio together on Sunday.
Conran made sure it was anything but.
He notched four birdies and an eagle inside the first six holes on Sunday to pull ahead by eight shots early, eventually carding a five-under 63 and finishing with a 36-hole total of 134 – seven shots clear of second-placed Robert Payne (74, 67 – 141).
McLeish, consistent as always, carded 71 on day two to finish another two strokes back in third.
“I did start pretty well on the second day,” Conran laughed.
“I pulled ahead pretty early and playing with Parfy and Dan, I sort of knew what I had to do from then on.
“I crashed a bit at the end of the round. I bogeyed 14 and managed to double 17 after landing my drive about 80 (metres) out, but I was a bit too far in front by then.
“It’s my first win out there, I did win the City of Orange (Golf Championship) out there in 2015 but this is my first Open win.”
Although not entirely pleased with how he’d scored on Saturday’s first day, Conran said he’d hit the ball well enough to enter the second round “pretty confident”.
“It’s funny really, I thought I played pretty well I just didn’t score well on day one,” he explained.
“I crashed on the back nine on Saturday too, but I hit it well so I was still pretty confident going into Sunday.
“It was just about making sure I didn’t lose my head, which can be pretty easy out there at times. I sort of knew if I could do that I’d be a fair chance of scoring well enough to go close.”
Conran won’t be backing the win up in this weekend’s Blayney Open though, confirming he won’t be playing and opening the door for a number of other title hopefuls.
“I’d have liked to play but unfortunately I can’t this weekend,” Conran said, saying he’s expecting to turn out at Duntryleague and Wentworth’s equivalents though.
“I’m not sure if I could tip anyone to win, it’s hard to know who’s playing out there. Payney, obviously, is always a chance and guys like Parfy and Andy Campbell are a shot.”
Brett Quick claimed last weekend’s 36-hole stableford title, with 78 points.
Playing off 10, Quick carded a massive 40 points on day one and 38 on day two – 74 and 78 off the stick, respectively – to win by one point.