Kadin Neho made history today at the New Zealand Amateur Championship by becoming the first Northland golfer to win the title in the 120-year history of the event.
The 17-year-old from the Whangarei Golf Club, who admitted he was shocked to even make the final, withstood a late charge from Tasman golfer Ryan Chisnall to win the final 3 and 2 in windy and cool conditions at the Manawatu Golf Club.
The shy youngster, who struggled to come to terms with the spotlight this week, let his golf do the talking in the championship final. He delivered a four foot clutch putt on the 16th hole to win the title and become the first Northland winner since the event began in 1893.
"Wow that is a long time,'' laughed Neho amongst congratulations from his mates.
"This is a really special day for me. I really don't know what to say. I think Northland people will be stoked with this achievement. They have all been watching the scores and texting me. The people at the Whangarei Golf Club have been a great support and been egging me on. This is pretty cool.''
Neho made the turn 2up in the match but continued his momentum with a birdie at the first hole back in the afternoon. From there he never looked back and was never behind in the second half of the match.
"I played really solid today and got up nice and early in the afternoon round which helped the nerves again.''
The turning point of the match came on the back nine of the first 18 holes where Neho delivered four birdies in succession to go from being all square to 2up at a crucial stage.
"That was definitely a turning point - that stretch of golf I played really well and I felt like I took control the match there.''
Neho never really felt like he had won the match until the final putt dropped on the par three.
"He came back at me really well and made a couple of birdies [on 12 and 13] and then I didn't play 14 too well. I managed to hold on in the next couple of holes.''
Fellow Northland golfer Lee Neumann, who made a hole in one early in the tournament, offered Neho some sage advice heading down the 15th hole when he was 3up.
"I was thinking about taking on the green there but that was a good decision to pull a seven iron there [to lay up] and keep it in play. I have to thank Lee for that.''
Neho was not sure how he'd celebrate his momentous win. First things first he had a bus ride back home to Whangarei tonight at 10pm where ``I will just sit back and be really happy on the bus ride home. I never expected to get this far. It has all been a blur for me really''.
He hoped that this win is the start of some bigger things to come in his game.
"I saw the selectors out there today and I hope that they were impressed. Hopefully from here I can carry on with some good golf.''
Meanwhile, Wellington's Julianne Alvarez's eyes filled with tears of joy as she claimed the women's crown.
It was the biggest win of her young golf career and she did it in style with a dominant performance to overcome Waikato golfer Hanna Seifert by 7 and 6 in the 36 hole final.
The 16-year-old from the Manor Park Golf Club, who defeated the defending champion Munchin Keh to make the championship final, saved her best for last to fulfil her long heralded potential.
New Zealand Amateur Final Scores
Women: Julianne Alvarez (Manor Park) bt Hanna Seifert (Lochiel) 7 & 6
Men: Kadin Neho (Whangarei) bt Ryan Chisnall (Greenacres) 3 &2