New Plymouth professional Grant Moorhead finally broke through on the Charles Tour today, and the tears that followed were testament to how much the victory meant.
The 42-year-old, who has played in all but two Charles Tour events since it began in 2004, carded a final round three under par at the LawnMaster Classic to hold off the charge of Waikato teenager Luke Toomey.
Moorhead led by one shot heading down the 18th at the Manawatu Golf Club and he two-putted for par to put the pressure on Toomey, who had a birdie try from 3m to force a playoff.
The put went sliding by on the high side and the emotion hit Moorhead, who has been a perennial contender in the four-round format where the field of professionals contest a $40,000 purse.
"I am just feeling a huge sense of relief," said Moorhead, who claimed the $7200 in prize money. "Today's final round is just such a blur. I can't remember the middle part of the round at all. But I hung in there and played really nicely.
"It starts to play on your mind a bit, finishing second or third so many times, so to get up and win here is a huge thrill. It means a lot to me to win on the Charles Tour it has been a long time coming."
Moorhead, who was part of New Zealand's Eisenhower Trophy-winning team in 1992, last tasted victory at the Tahiti Open in 2011. He has finished runner-up twice on the Charles Tour and third at the Muriwai Open in 2011.
In the women's field, North Harbour golfer Lita Guo secured her first national title after carding a one under par in the final round to win by six shots from Wellington No 1 Julianne Alvarez.
Guo, who recently claimed a bronze medal at the Australian Youth Olympics as part of the New Zealand mixed team, was delighted to win for the first time on the Charles Tour.
"I have had a few runner-up finishes and top fives but to win is a great feeling," said the 17-year-old. "I played all right today - not as well as I have in the other rounds - but it was good enough to win by six. To get my first national title after how I played this week was great."
- APNZBy Kris Shannon Email Kris