Mark Hutson (Muriwai Golf Club) has gone wire to wire, leading all the way to claim the biggest win of his career in the New Zealand Men's Stroke Play at the Hastings Golf Club today.
Hutson who took the lead on Thursday afternoon with the round of the tournament, a seven under 65, was given a big fright today as his overnight lead was whittled away before he composed himself on the final two holes to claim a two-shot victory.
Hutson had seemed unflappable all week and was sleeping on a five-shot lead heading into the final round however bogeys on the 2nd, 3rd,5th and 7th holes saw his large lead quickly diminish as he dropped back to 11 under par.
As Hutson was faltering it was Canterbury's Reid Hilton (Russley Golf Club) who was moving himself into contention making four birdies in his first 12 holes to move to eleven under par and in a share of the lead.
Hilton's quest came unstuck on the 14th hole where a disastrous triple bogey ruined his chances.
Kerry Mountcastle (Masterton Golf Club) made the turn at nine under and made two huge par saves on the 10th and 11th holes, with the save on the par five 10th after having to take an unplayable almost defying belief.
After those two saves he immediately birdied the 12th hole and suddenly was one shot back and looking a likely contender. However, he couldn't find the spark over the final six holes though, and with six straight pars had to settle for 10 under par and in a tie for 2nd place.
Harry Hillier (Te Puke Golf Club) joined Mountcastle in a tie for second place on 10 under par storming home with three birdies in the last five holes, highlighted by making a 10 metre birdie putt on the last.
After making the turn at four over Hutson seemed to be steadying the ship with a run of five straight pars to open the back nine before hitting it to a foot on the 15th hole and calmly tapping in for birdie. He immediately gave the rest of the field a glimmer of hope with a three-putt bogey on the 17th however a two-putt birdie on the par five 17th and a well-made up and down from the green side bunker on 18 gave Huston a comfortable two stroke margin of victory.
The win for Hutson was a culmination of years of hard work.
"This feels amazing, this is what you practice for everyday for moments like this, it just feels awesome," Hutson said shortly after his victory.
"It definitely wasn't the start I was after. I just said to myself stay patient, I have played the back nine better this week and I knew that the birdies would come."
Despite his struggles on the front nine the 20-year-old was proud of his resilience.
"I'm stoked with the achievement, you don't want to shoot three over, but it's a big achievement and proud of myself for coming back."
"I knew there were guys around 9 or ten under, so I knew it was getting pretty tight, I didn't know who they were, I didn't have a good look at the scoreboards to be honest."
Hutson who after winning the South Island Stroke Play earlier this month put the recent success down to putting.
"Putting has been really good, I've been hitting enough greens but putting has been really solid and putting in golf really is the key."
If Hutson can keep putting the way, he did at the Hastings Golf Club this week then he will certainly be a name to watch in the future as he prevailed today over the countries best and can now call himself the New Zealand Stroke Play Champion.