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Forever Younger: Victorian finally breaks duck at NSW Open

The next two times he went back to the 18th tee for a play-off against Travis Smyth, his drives never looked like missing the fairway. He stuffed his approach on the second play-off hole to six feet and rolled in the birdie putt to snap 13 winless years as a professional.

I’ve been [a professional for] 10 years. It’s just so hard to win. That’s reality of it

Josh Younger

“It’s relief,” the Victorian-based Younger said. “I’ve been [a professional for] 10 years. It’s just so hard to win. That’s reality of it. There’s 150 blokes every week and the competition is that good now. Sometimes the cards have got to fall your way. Normally you make six down the last and it’s all over. You can have your best tournament and someone plays better. It’s a massive relief.”

Younger ended up beating the young. Maybe they should rename him Older.

The young twenty-something pros in the final group played like their knees were knocking all afternoon. Min Woo Lee couldn’t make a putt all day – including a birdie attempt on the last to make it a three-man extra hole shootout – but he will make it.

Justin Warren? Poor old (young) Justin Warren. He only turned pro a few months ago and lives down the road at Picton. He stumbled on 16. Smyth ditto on 17, three putting from the flat surface when he had to go up a hill and through the fringe. Wise guys wanted him to wedge it from the flat stuff.

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The 72nd hole. Warren, in a share of the lead with Younger and Smyth, is middle of the fairway. His approach shot? Plop. You almost wanted to pick up the pieces of heart and put it back together. Even after that last hole, he still walked up to a kid dressed like Rickie Fowler and handed him his golf ball. His day will come after making the kid’s day.

But this day belonged to the older Younger.

He cried, because he could. His Brisbane-based mind coach Sean Lynch, who he flew back from Thailand to see recently, shed more than the bloke who actually won. Younger hadn’t even made a top 10 this year. But for now his status on the Australasian Tour is secure for the next few years.

“To be honest, it’s been pretty shit this year,” he said. “It’s pretty stressful, golf. I’ve had an average year and I knew that I had to play alright in these few events to maintain my status. I missed the cut in Thailand and thought, ‘nah, I’m going home’.

“You get a bit anxious, but [Saturday] felt better as the day went on. I found myself going down when we’re in a play-off and you think, ‘if you finish second it’s still not a bad payday’.”

But not as good as first. Because golfers rarely win, but when they finally do? It’s worth it.

NSW OPEN
-17: Josh Younger (won second play-off hole with birdie), Travis Smyth
-16: Min Woo Lee
-15: Justin Warren “
-13: Andrew Dodt
-11: Denzel Ieremia
-10: Andrew Martin, Jake Higginbottom, James Marchesani

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