Mackenzie goes from parking lot to champion in Kalgoorlie

Mackenzie, 22, from Lennox Head on the New South Wales north coast, shot an outstanding final 68 to pull away from Austin Bautista, with whom he shared the lead overnight, and win by two shots at 19 under par.

The win secures his job for two years and, he later admitted, could get him out of the old van he tends to sleep in when playing on the East Coast.

“I might not have to sleep so much in my car!” he said afterwards when asked about the implications of the win. “I have a job for two more years. So that means a lot.

A delicious 40-yard bump-and-run chip and two-yard birdie putt on the 72nd hole sealed the deal for the Ballina Golf Club man, after a par-3 double bogey five on the 17th hole endangered his position.

With Bautista just one shot back down the 18 and having a small birdie putt himself, Mackenzie buried the putt to secure a win that will give him a two-year exemption to play the Australasian Tour.

TO THE RIGHT: Austin Bautista shows some frustration in the final round, with the New South Welshman eventually finishing second. PHOTO: PGA of Australia.

His previous wins in four years as a professional were pro-ams, but today – in a virtual match play situation with Bautista – it was another level.

The “laconic” description doesn’t even do justice to Mackenzie, who wears a ragged bag with torn headgear.

“I felt pretty good,” he said. “I tried to laugh at everything and not worry about anything. It seems to work for me.”

The pair started the final round with a three-shot buffer and were never threatened on top. It was just a matter of who would get the upper hand between them, and it was quite a battle. Bautista started the day shooting with three early birdies and trailing by two after a poor drive cost Mackenzie a shot at 2nd.

Then Mackenzie parried with birdies on the 6th and 7th to take the lead, and it was Bautista who started to falter.

“Maybe I wouldn’t have to sleep so much in my car!” I have a job for two more years. So that means a lot. -Jay Mackenzie.

In the 9th, Mackenzie made a remarkable save through red dirt next to the green, and by the time he birdied it from two yards out in the 14th, his lead was three.

Then on the 17th, a long, tough par-3 came along, and his tee shot bounced hard and off the back of the green, into a gully and leaving him with a hard shot. His chip skated across the green, and by the time he tapped for a double bogey, his lead had been reduced to one.

“I was fine,” he said of his state of mind. “I still had a one-shot lead. I just had to play a good (last) hole and I was able to do it.

Mackenzie in full flight during the final round in Kalgoorlie. PHOTO: PGA of Australia.

Bautista, who was also looking for his first Tour win, was down to three under on four holes but eventually shot a two-under 70 today, missing his short birdie attempt at the last and watching an opportunity present itself. , more generally. He finished under 17, one stroke ahead of third-placed Kiwi Ryan Chisnall.

“He (Bautista) came out swinging,” Mackenzie said. “I made a few good putts, loads of good putts, actually. They just fell in my way.

The story of Mackenzie’s season is worth telling. He missed a series of cuts early on, afflicted with the dreaded golf disease that causes the ball to go sideways.

“I was stomping every third shot, nagging him constantly, and I didn’t know what to do,” he said.

Then, at the TPS Murray River event at Cobram Barooga, he cut the number and a turn was turned.

“Since then I just feel like my game is slowly coming out of having some serious swing issues. I can’t even explain it. This week I’ve done it all. I don’t even know how.

As for the somewhat famous van on the Tour, he may have left for early retirement. This week in Kalgoorlie, he stayed in a cantonment with locals. He might even get a new bag, he said, and the van gets a little cold.

“I have an old troop carrier,” he said. “I got it from my grandfather, and I think it’s done about 600,000 km. It keeps running and it saves me a lot of money. It’s quite comfortable. It gets a little bit sometimes cold. “

Today he even won the Road to Outback four-ball competition with amateur playing partner Iain Koch. Write it down as the day Jay Mackenzie came back from the cold.

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