She left her only mistake until the last, and by then, Haru Nomura already knew that the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open was hers. She had played one of the great rounds of Australian tournament golf, a 65 that closed out legends of the past, present and future, such as world No. 1 Lydia Ko, and hall of famer Karrie Webb.
Nomura, the Honolulu based 23-year-old from Kanagawa, Japan, has introduced herself to the golfing world with a thunderclap.
Her seven-under closing round, spiced with monster birdie putts and just 26 blows with the flat stick, took her to 16-under-par and a three-shot victory over Ko at 13-under. With three holes to play the New Zealander Ko was just a shot back and threatening, but Nomura just kept hitting greens and making putts, again at the 16th from short range, and yet again from 10 metres at the 17th with a downhill slider that would have scared most players.
She summed it up afterward: "The putter ...wow ... Unbelievable!''
She bogeyed the last hole from the front, right trap but Ko had suffered the same fate, and the margin was three shots. Ko, who finished outright second after a 67, was among the players who rained bottles of water and sports drink upon her on the 18th green. Asked afterward if she had feared following a player of the world No. 1's stature in the game, she said through an interpreter: "There was no pressure.''
Her explanation was that she played the course, and not the opponent. The truth is that she has fallen away from 36-hole leads several times before, but this time, she would not yield as she had done in the Bahamas, and in Ocala in the United States earlier this year. Did she consider herself an equal of Ko, she was asked.
"Should I tell the truth,'' she laughed "I think I'm better! Maybe...''
Ko was philosophical about her near-miss. She gave herself a chance when she holed a birdie putt at the 17th, but in the following group Nomura immediately matched her feat, which was the story of the day. "When another player does it, it’s really out of my hands,'' said Ko.
Catriona Matthew, who won this tournament in 1996 for her first pro victory, finished tied ninth. The Scot, who held a tie for the lead at the halfway stage of the tournament, closed with a 72 for a total of 281 over the par-71 west course.
English teenagers Charley Hull and Georgia Hall leapfrogged up the leaderboard with impressive final rounds. Hall who was victorious in the Victorian Open earlier this month, shot 67 for a share of ninth place, whilst Hull capped another impressive week with a three-under 68, good enough to finish fourth.
For the full scoreboard visit www.womensausopen.com