Harrison Crowe’s hopes for the Asia-Pacific amateur were fading. The 21-year-old Australian took a two-stroke lead after bogging down on the first hole, and in Sunday’s 10th final round at Amata Spring Country Club, Crowe was three strokes behind China’s Bo Jin.
Crow started the week in Chonburi, Thailand with a decent consolation prize already in his back pocket; if he doesn’t win, he’ll turn pro in a few days.
But Crowe remained motivated. With AAC glory on the line, as well as eliminations to the Masters and the Open Championship the following year, Crowe hit four birdie nines and barely pared the last one to bounce back and take a one-punch win over Jin.
“I definitely had to dig deeper,” said Crowe, who joined Antonio Murdaka and Curtis Luck as AAC Australian Champions. “At the turn, I kind of told my dad and his buddy that I just needed one [putt] to get in, just one to fall, and from there I supported myself to continue.”
Gene, a junior at Oklahoma State whose brother Cheng won that championship in 2015, tied Crowe for the lead early Sunday morning with a birdie on the first hole. He later took par-4 12.th hole to maintain a three-shot lead over Crow.
But Gene’s bogey next and an expensive double bogey at 129 yards, par-3 17th the hole where Gene’s ball found the water short allowed Crow to come back in with four birds on a five-hole stretch starting at #11.
Crowe scared the number 16 and almost closed the par-4 hole. Finding a fairway, Crowe, clinging to a one-stroke lead, yanked his approach 181 yards almost into the water.
“I thought he would fall into the water,” Crowe said. “I pulled it out, but washed it away. … I just hoped he just caught some grass.”
The ball stayed in the air and Crowe got up and down to secure his title. Jin finished second in his third top 10 on AAC since 2019.
“This is not a position I would like to be in,” Jin said, “but I am very proud of the way I played all this week. You just can’t take anything away from Crowe and how he played back nine.”
For Crowe, the performance confirmed his year. He started 2021 with wins at the Australian Master of the Amateurs, New South Wales Amateur and New South Wales Open, the latter of which is a professional. He then placed second in another professional event, the National PGA Classic, in early April.
But when summer came and Crowe boarded planes for long flights to Europe and the US, his game died down. He missed out on the top 25 European Amateur Team Championships, the Amateur South and the World Amateur Team Championships, while missing many miles in British Amateur, Western Amateur and American Amateur matches.
“I had a very good start to the year at home in Australia,” Crowe said, “and obviously I didn’t play very well in golf in the middle of the year abroad, and I just felt like it was just… not to be forgotten, but I just I had to prove to my country, to my golf clubs, just to everyone, that I was still here.”
Ranked 43rd and expected to rise sharply in the world amateur golf rankings, Crowe will remain an amateur for the time being. With two big invitations next year, he needs to delay turning pro until at least next July.
Okay with him.
“I did have a plan to turn pro after this week, but that’s a good reason not to,” Crowe said. “I have a lot of things ahead of me that are very interesting.”