After an incredible turn of events, Australia’s Jasper Stubbs, the man who hit the first shot of the 14th Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) at the historic Royal Melbourne Golf Club, also hit the last.
His 292nd shot of the championship – a tap-in putt from less than three inches to par the second hole of the play-off – could well be the most life-changing one of his career. With the win, Stubbs received an invitation to the 2024 Masters Tournament, and also to The 152nd Open at Royal Troon and The 129th Amateur Championship.
Here are some things you need to know about Stubbs and his final round on Sunday…
Who is Jasper Stubbs?
Stubbs, or Stubsy as his friends call him, is a 21-year-old member of the Australian National team. This was his first appearance in the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Ranked 476th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Stubbs became the third highest ranked player in the history of the championship to wear the crown – Hideki Matsuyama was 544th when he won the first of his two titles in 2011 and China’s Tianlang Guan was 490th when he won in 2012 as a 14-year-old.
The Victorian’s biggest win before the AAC was the New Zealand Amateur last year, and he leaves for Hamilton on Monday morning to defend his crown.
What does Stubbs get for his win?
Apart from the stunning AAC trophy, which will remain in Australia for the second straight year as he followed in the footsteps of Harrison Crowe’s win in Thailand last year, Stubb gets to play the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National, The 152nd Open at Royal Troon and The 129th Amateur Championship.
How did he get it done on Sunday?
Stubbs was two-over after his first six holes in the final round, and seemingly out of contention. However, he knuckled down and made four birdies after that and was bogey-free to close with a two-under par 69. That proved to be the second-best card on another tough scoring day at Royal Melbourne. As overnight leader Sampson-Yunhe Zheng kept dropping shots coming in, Stubbs’ +1 total was good enough to get him into a three-way play-off.
The Australian then made a stunning birdie putt on the first extra hole – the first birdie of the day on a demanding 18th hole – but his effort was matched by China’s Wenyi Ding, the second highest ranked player in the field coming into the week. Stubbs then made an even more stunning lag putt from over 60 feet to tap-in distance for par on the second extra hole, while Ding dumped his shot into the right greenside bunker and could only make a bogey from there.
His favorite hobby when not playing golf?
Apart from helping his dad run their family business, Stubbs’ main hobby is to work out in the gym.
His achievements in the past:
Apart from the New Zealand Amateur win last year, he reached the last-32 in the Amateur Championship at Hillside Golf Club in England this year and finished third in the Mandurah Amateur Open. His other WAGR-recognised win was in the Portsea Amateur Open in Australia in July last year, when he triumphed by eight shots.
How good was that final-round 69?
It did not exactly match Saturday’s course-record 65 by Sampson-Yunhe Zheng, but the conditions were still brutal at Royal Melbourne. Stubbs’ 69 was the second-best card of the day – bettered only by teammate Quinnton Croker’s 68, and one of only four sub-70 round on Sunday.
The numbers that mattered:
15 – After missing two greens in his first six holes, Stubbs hit almost every green in regulation after that. In total, he had 15 greens in regulation.
60 – Length of the severely curving putt that Stubbs faced in the second play-off hole, which he nudged to three inches for the all-important par putt.
Stubbs’ best hole of the day:
Given how tough the par-4 18th was playing – the pin was right on top of the right greenside bunker – Stubbs felt his second shot to the green in regulation play, where he smashed a nine-iron which was all over the flag, as his most crucial shot of the day and the par there as his most critical hole of the day.
How did the birdies come?
Hole No. 7, par-4: Hit an eight iron to about 25 feet. He faced a pretty similar putt to the one he had in first play-off hole, left to right, something he feel very comfortable with, and made it.
Hole No. 11, par-3: A super nine-iron to about 6 feet and made the putt.
Hole No. 13, par-4: Got away a little bit after getting into the bunker. Flopped his bunker shot out and was left with slick, downhill 25-feet putt.
Hole No. 17, par-5: Did not hit a great second shot, but played a smart shot to 30 feet up the hill and said he had a good read of that and was “completely locked’ in on the putt.