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Howard pulls off dramatic win in Australia

SOUTHPORT & Ainsdale’s England international Paul Howard produced a dramatic finish to win the New South Wales Amateur Championship in Australia on the 37th hole.

The 24-year old trailed his Australian opponent, 18-year-old David Micheluzzi, over the closing holes at Avondale Golf Club but a crucial birdie, when he drove the green on the par four 35th, got him back on level terms. The 36th was halved in par before Howard clinched the win with a par on the 37th, after Micheluzzi flew the green with his approach.

It was a golf grinder, a close match without many bogeys, he said. The turning point was driving the green on the 17th win the hole.

Howard adds this title to the South American Championship, which he won in 2014.

His success provides a triumphant end to a five-week tour of Australia. He added: It was nice to get a win after playing so well for the trip. Now, I’m looking forward to Spain and the European Nations Cup. Howard, who was the number two seed, had a fight on his hands throughout the final. Micheluzzi made a fast start and was two under after two and two up.

Howard’s own birdie on the fourth narrowed the gap and he was back on level terms after six holes. A further birdie on the ninth put him one up and he held that slender advantage until he conceded the 16th and then lost the 18th, to reach the halfway stage at one down.

He was only to get ahead in the match once more  when he lifted the trophy on the 37th.

Micheluzzi again set off in blistering style with birdies on 19 and 20 to get to three up. Howard answered with his own birdie on the 21st but, with seven holes to play, he was still trailing by two. He won the 30th and 31st holes to square matters, but lost the next to a birdie to again fall behind. However, he made his vital move with his 35th hole birdie and before long had the trophy in his hands.

Earlier in the trip, Howard claimed fifth place in the Australian Master of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne, signing off with a fourth round 66, which included six birdies on the back nine.

Howard will represent England Golf in the European Nations Cup in Spain, from February 18-25, alongside double European champion Ashley Chesters, from Hawkstone Park.

Paul Howard in action in Australia. Photo © Golf NSW.