Queensland boys rise to challenge

Queensland is the Boys’ Junior Interstate Series champion after a dramatic final-day shootout in Perth.

With a healthy buffer in individual matches won through the week, the Queenslanders had their destiny in their own hands, knowing a win over Western Australia would suffice in the seventh and final round at picturesque Hartfield Golf Club in Perth.

But the hosts, as evidenced countless times during the past week of the Australian Junior Championships, would not lie down.

And it took until the last putt to send the trophy north for the first time since 2013, the previous time the event was hosted in WA, at Bunbury.

The heat was coming from two fronts with WA pushing hard from third to defend the title it won last year and knowing a 4-1 win over Queensland would give it a shot.

But more realistically, the pressure was loaded up by a plucky New South Wales team that escaped 3-2 from its own tight match with South Australia to ensure its northern rivals had to win.

Things progressed nicely in the No.5 match with Gold Coaster Ryan Stitt prevailing 4&3 over Adam Brady to set Queensland away.

But when local lads Joshua Herrero (No.4) and Josh Greer (No.3) saluted 3&1 and 2&1, respectively, Queensland was suddenly under the pump, knowing NSW had gone past it in terms of contests won.

Newly crowned Australian Junior champion Connor Fewkes, of Kalgoorlie, was locked in a fierce contest with Lewis Hoath in the No.2 match, while his WA teammate Cooper Geddes had his hands full with Brisbane’s Louis Dobbelaar, third last week behind Fewkes.

Dobbelaar, the reigning Cam Smith Scholarship holder, pushed 3-up with four to play and eventually held firm for a 3&2 triumph to square the contest at 2-2, leaving the No.2s to decide the trophy’s destination.

And it was Hoath, the Gold Coast-based winner of the Greg Norman Junior Masters, who held his nerve, dropping a 1.2m putt for to halve the 17th for a 2&1 victory that sealed the team victory 3-2.

Captain Dobbelaar said it had been an “awesome” week for his team.

“It is an incredible feeling, honestly,” the 2016 New Zealand Amateur champion said.

“I’m really proud of the boys’ efforts this week –  we really had an awesome time out there. 

“It has to be one of the best Queensland highlights in boys’ history. All the boys did really well and I’m just glad we all came together extremely well.

“This has been the best two weeks of golf I have played in a while (and) it’s been an honour to do it with a great bunch of boys.

“It helps when you have a great team around you.” 

Remarkably, all three victorious Queensland players today were among five unbeaten throughout the week.

Dobbelaar, Stitt and Hoath were joined by Corey “Laminator” Lamb, of NSW, and WA’s Josh Greer with that honour and all five receive a Golf Australia medal for their achievement.

The result left New South Wales as runner-up, despite finishing on the same number of contests won as Queensland, based on total matches won.

WA, which had won the girls’ title earlier in the week at Royal Perth, was third to cap a great run for the hosts with Fewkes and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard the individual champions last week.

Victoria was fourth, a half-point clear of South Australia, with Tasmania sixth, the ACT seventh and the Northern Territory eighth.

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