Vilips grabs Southern Amateur

Karl Vilips
Karl Vilips hoists the Southern Amateur trophy aloft.

Australian Karl Vilips has won the biggest title of his burgeoning career.

Vilips, still just 15, hoisted the same Southern Amateur Championship trophy lifted by the legendary Bobby Jones for the first of three times a century ago.

But more impressive than the illustrious names that adorn the silverware was the manner in which Vilips outplayed his older rivals, some of whom are college graduates, on the testing Dogwood layout of the Country Club of North Carolina.

The young Victorian carved out a superb five-under-par 67 amid the pressure of the final round, winning by a stroke from Stoney Crouch, who's about to start his senior year at Tennessee's Lipscomb University.

The duo had cleared out from the field through an enthralling final round, but Vilips belied his tender years to win his first major open-age title in the United States.

Crouch had looked ominous with a birdie-eagle-birdie run around the turn to seize the outright lead.

But Vilips, based in Florida, was equal to the challenge.

The Cam McCormick-coached prodigy made outstanding birdies on the 12th, 14th and 15th holes to regain the lead he'd shared through rounds one and two, then held on in a tense finish as the birdies dried up for both players.

Vilips' rounds of 65-68-73-67 were good for a 15-under total and his final round was comfortably the day's best.

The other Australians posted scores more typical of the challenging course, again highlighting their younger compatriot's prowess.

New South Welshman Dylan Perry (73) was the next best at five under having battled the effects of illness for most of the week.

Queensland's Shae Wools-Cobb and South Australian Lachie Barker also closed with 73s, finishing at -2 and +2, respectively.

Victorian Blake Collyer had a flat 78 to fall back to six over, while Queensland's Charlie Dann closed with a 73 to finish at eight over.

Vilips' victory will go a long way to making him a near automatic selection for the inaugural Junior Presidents Cup in late September in New Jersey.

In the current standings, he will be flanked by fellow Aussies Josh Armstrong and Fred Lee in the International team, to be led by legendary Gary Player and his fellow South African star Trevor Immelman.

Vilips is expected to attend the Golf Australia national camp in Houston this week.

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