Elvis Smylie has well and truly arrived in Australian golf.
The 18-year-old amateur – son of former tour tennis players Liz and Peter – produced a stunning weekend of back-to-back eight-under-par 63s – to go within a whisker of winning the inaugural $150,000 Players Series Victoria tournament.
It took everything veteran tour pro Brad Kennedy could muster to birdie the last hole and pip Smylie by a shot, claiming victory at 17-under at Rosebud Country Club on Sunday.
Lefthander Smylie made 18 birdies in his third and fourth rounds – nine a day – including on the closing three holes to take the clubhouse lead in a quality field that included major winner Geoff Ogilvy – the tournament host – and longtime European Tour star Marcus Fraser.
Overnight leader Kennedy, 46, struggled with a hip injury incurred on the third hole on Sunday but called on all his experience and grit to hit a seven iron within three feet of the pin at the last hole before holing out to win with a 68 and avoid a playoff with Smylie.
He also made two eagles – at the second and 16th holes – on Sunday to go with the albatross two on the par 5 15th he made on Saturday.
“When you have to dig deep, these are the ones that are so special,” said Kennedy, who knows Smylie’s talent well as both are based at the same Gold Coast golf resort, calling him a “Sanctuary Cove mate”.
Kennedy had been considering closing a long and successful tour career at home and in Japan before winning his second New Zealand Open title early last year and he confirmed he’d now play at least two more years on tour.
The men’s and women’s home tours can consider their unusual tournament format – it had male and female pros and amateurs all playing against each other – a huge success.
It proved highly competitive with LPGA Tour player Su Oh finishing tied third with Nathan Barbieri, two shots behind Smylie while Royal Melbourne member Jack Holland was the juniors division winner at four-under.