Zwart storms home late to win NZPGA Championship

Pieter Zwart has won the NZPGA Championship in emphatic fashion, capturing the biggest title of his career.

The Waitangi Golf Club professional, who used to be a member at Hastings Golf Club, played his final four holes in 5-under to leap ahead of the overnight leader Mason Lee.

Zwart finished the tournament at 15-under-par to win by a stroke. He stood on the 15th tee at 2-over-par for the day and seemingly out of contention before recreating history.

After making birdies on 15 and 16, he chipped in for an eagle on the par-5 17th and rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the last, meaning Lee and Kobori needed to birdie the last to force extra holes.

When their putts slid by, Zwart was in disbelief that he had just won the biggest title of his career.

“I didn’t really prepare for this. I came here with no expectations. I’ve played here countless times so I knew where I needed to hit it, and I just stayed incredibly patient."

His finish was similar to his club championship victory in 2009 when he beat club stalwart and former New Zealand Seniors champion Stuart Duff when he finished birdie, par, eagle, and birdie.

After losing his ball on the short par-4 12th yesterday, Zwart remained optimistic that a finish similar to his one in 2009 would get him close to winning the title.

“I knew there were a few opportunities coming in, and I hit some quality shots.

“I played a club champs here against Stu Duff who caddied for me. I beat him by finishing birdie, par, eagle, birdie, and I thought about that after the 12th, and I knew I was capable of a finish like that.

“I’ve spent countless hours here. I made sure the lights were on the practice putting green when we were here late at night.

"I’ve hit thousands of balls on the range and played many games here. I’m thrilled to win here."

He not only lifted the trophy for beating the 91 other professionals in the field, but also lifted the trophy awarded to the leading club professional, a title he won by 10 strokes.

Mason Lee finished in solo second a shot behind. Three-time PGA Tour of Australasia winner Kazuma Kobori finished in third at 13-under.

Dongwoo Kang finished second in the Club Professionals Championship at 5-under.

Mark Brown and Josh Geary fired the rounds of the day, finishing with 6-under 66s.

— Staff reporter