He has competed only twice overseas so the magnitude of a double whammy in leading New Zealand to victory in Malaysia isn't lost on Hawke's Bay amateur Stuart Duff.
Duff spearheaded the Kiwis to a memorable crown at the Asia-Pacific Seniors at Sungai Long Golf and Country Club and, in the process, also claimed the individual accolades yesterday. "It's nice to win the individual title but it's great to win the team one for the six of us," he said after the players received a police escort each day on their buses from their hotels to the course and back.
"It was a bit strange for us Kiwi boys, that's for sure but, anyway, it was funny."
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The Hastings Golf Club member combined with Peter Brinsdon (Pegasus), Brent Paterson (Royal Auckland Grange), Tony Chettleburgh (Feilding), Craig Newman (Nelson) and John Batley (Titirangi) for the collective honours with a don't-argue nine-shot advantage over arch rivals Australia.
"Australia had a really good day on day two and we did too, but they had played really, really well," said the Lindisfarne College teacher, in his self-effacing way, from the capital, Kuala Lumpur, today.
The chuckling 56-year-old said it was funny how a run in golf could change in a blink of an eye as the Kiwis gnawed away at the Aussies' three-shot lead on the final round before establishing a yawning lead. New Zealand finished eight-over par in the overwhelming 12-shot turnaround of the three-round competition.
"We went out there to play as good as we could and Australia were a little bit off their game from their previous rounds," he said of the showdown on the 18-hole, par-72 course that retired multi-major championship-winning American professional Jack Nicklaus — who turns 80 on January 21 — designed.
The Kiwis collectively 294, 290 and 288 for a eight-over 872. Australia started with 296, made their intentions clear on 285 on day two but blew out to 300 to finish with an 18-over 881 as runners up while Japan were third, three strokes adrift from the Ockers (296, 285, 300) on 881. The best four of six individual scores counted towards the collective cause daily.
It broke the shackles of the bridesmaids' tag on the Kiwis in the past two years with a shot or two the difference as of late.
Batley, in his fifth run, eventually savoured his maiden collective victory.
"He was saying he won't play again so it's great for him to finish in that way," Duff said.
A former elite Central Districts cricketer who flirted with a New Zealand call up when making the 'A' team, Duff carded rounds of 73, 71, and 72 to finish at even-par for the tournament, one shot clear of first-round leader and teammate Brinsdon, who had returns of 70, 77, and 70.
It keeps the bragging rights in New Zealand for the third consecutive year after Paterson's grip on it for the past two.
Paterson finished seventh equal on 220 Chettleburgh also rounded out the top 10 a stroke behind him on an equal muster with another, David Bagust.
Asked what the mindset was going out on the final round, Duff said it was simply a case of individuals playing as well as they could because the rest of the variables were out of their hands.
"You don't have any idea what anyone else is doing, really," he said. "I was in the last group so I had no idea whether we were up or down so I just focused on my game and hoped for the best."
Despite the monsoon season, he felt the conditions were agreeable and saluted the organisers for their professionalism.
"It's not as hot as it could be and there are thunderstorms late in the day sometimes so we played pretty early in the mornings and missed it."
The course, Duff said, was soft but the Golden Bear's craftsmanship demanded some bold striking with the water features and strategically located slopes, mounds and traps that greeted golfers along the 7019m course dubbed the "Garden of Eden".
However, he said the different type of grass on the greens made it interesting reading for the Kiwis who weren't accustomed to it, when compared to the variety at home.
"The Asian players seemed to be handling it okay, though," he said, adding he didn't think he ever got around to adapting to it.
"I didn't know which way they were going at times so I just putted it up there and hoped the odd one fell in."
Duff felt he had played well from the tee mound to approach shots quite smartly to negate the demands of temperamental greens with no double bogeys.
"I hit the ball pretty solidly and didn't make too many mistakes, therefore, I didn't really have any bad holes, really with the odd bogey here and there."
The back-to-back reigning New Zealand Men's Senior Open champion, who comes under the tutelage of Hastings PGA professional Brian Doyle, had carded eight birdies and just as many bogeys over the three days.
There's no rest for Duff who returns to Hastings on Monday after a 15-hour travel before teeing up at the Bridge Pa course for the annual Toro Men's Interprovincial matchplay competition from Tuesday. It will be the eighth time the former Bay captain will be representing his province, after stepping down in 2010 amid claims from then selectors he was "too old" to play at that level..
Like vintage wine, the amateur just keeps on delivering.