Jiri Janda, the former Czech Republic pro golfer, has won the inaugural New Zealand All Abilities Championship after a dramatic finish alongside the New Zealand Open at Millbrook Resort.
After starting the day with a seven-shot lead over local Kiwi hopeful Parker Aluesi, the pressure was applied quickly as the lead began to dissolve during the opening nine of the final round at Millbrook Resort.
The pair were going shot-for-shot through much of the back nine, and Janda held a one-stroke lead standing on the difficult par 3 finishing hole.
After watching his playing partner safely find the heart of the green the Czech stepped up to hit one of the shots of his golfing life, hitting his tee shot to within 10 feet and have one hand on the trophy. He’d capped off the history-making week by rolling in the birdie putt and celebrate accordingly.
Janda said he still can’t believe it.
“This is just excellent. Being here at this wonderful location and playing some great golf has been great this week,” Janda said.
“Playing at the head of the field in front of some of the world’s best professionals is a real honour.
“The golf course is in incredible condition and being a part of the New Zealand Open is excellent. I have no words.”
Despite not walking away with the trophy, Janda’s playing partner Aluesi impressed hitting key shots down the stretch when it mattered.
Aluesi says coming up short is disappointing, but his experience has been incredible.
“I’m a bit gutted,” Aluesi said.
“I knew coming into today I needed a low round and I started off playing really well.
“I wanted to continue the momentum going into the back nine but unfortunately, I couldn’t quite finish it off.
“The result doesn’t dampen my experience at all. The whole week has been amazing.
“I’ve never had an opportunity to play in an event like this one and I believe I’ve gained a lot as a golfer from the week; it’s been really special.”
Janda shot rounds of 75 and 78 to finish two shots clear of Aluesi after 36 holes, with the first round of the All Abilities Championship being cancelled due to high winds.