Fiji, August 20: Australian Jason Norris closed with a five-under-par 67 to win the Fiji International by four shots, claiming the biggest victory of his 21-year professional career.
Norris, who was thinking of quitting the game a few years ago, revived his career after firing eight birdies against three bogeys for a winning total of 14-under-par 274 at the Natadola Bay Championship Golf Course. The 44-year-old took home a cheque for US$195,421 and moved to seventh place on the Asian Tour Order of Merit, courtesy of his victory at the A$1.5 million (approximately US$1.14 million) event which was tri-sanctioned for the first time by the Asian Tour, European Tour and the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia
Young Thai talent Jazz Janewattananond fired the week’s lowest round score of 64 to grab a share of second place alongside Australian duo David McKenzie and James Marchesani, who closed with rounds of 67 and 70 respectively.
“I think it was just our week, everything aligned and putts dropped and some good shots came, it was amazing. I always thought I would win a big one but never did,” said Norris after claiming his fourth professional win and the first outside of Australia. His last win came on the local tour in 2010.
“I was going to give it away a couple of years ago because I thought I was going to lose my card. I started working at the Grange Golf Club and I was going to quit but I started playing well again,” Norris revealed. “I spoke to the boss last week and I said I would help out if needed but not on a permanent basis, I have probably two years left playing golf and I just want to have a crack. This came up probably quicker than I thought.
“I was about to go to Asian Tour Qualifying School for next season so this has just saved me some money! I didn’t think I would be here. Today I felt good, I felt like a champion, I felt like I was in a good spot.”
Overnight leader Wade Ormsby of Australia battled to a 73 to finish five shots back in fifth place with compatriots Adam Bland (65), Daniel Pearce (69) and Peter Wilson (70).
Malaysia’s Gavin Green, the second round co-leader, had a day to forget with a round of 82 to slide down the leaderboard into a share of 63rd place on four-over-par.
Results (Top 10 and ties):
274 – Jason Norris (AUS) 69-68-70-67.
278 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 74-72-68-64, David McKenzie (AUS) 68-71-72-67, James Marchesani (AUS) 71-70-67-70.
279 – Adam Bland (AUS) 68-71-75-65, Daniel Pearce (NZL) 66-71-73-69, Peter Wilson (AUS) 68-71-70-70, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 69-71-66-73.
280 – Jarryd Felton (AUS) 71-71-72-66, Gareth Paddison (NZL) 73-69-71-67, Scott Vincent (ZIM) 73-68-68-71.