With wild six-shot comeback, amateur punches Masters, Open Championship tickets
Jasper Stubbs started the final round of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Amateur six shots out of the lead. But by the end of Sunday, the 21-year-old had invites to both the 2024 Masters and the Open Championship.
Stubbs, a hometown favorite who lives just two miles away from host site Royal Melbourne, fired a final-round two-under 69, including playing his final 12 holes four under, to erase the deficit and find himself in a playoff with third-round leader Sampson Zheng and 2022 U.S. Junior Amateur winner Wenyi Ding at one over after 72 holes.
After birdies on the first playoff hole eliminated Ding, Stubbs cozied a nearly 60-foot birdie putt to just a few inches at the Royal Melbourne composite course’s 18th to become the fourth Aussie winner of the Asia-Pacific Amateur.
Thanks to the event’s sponsorship by Augusta National and the R and A, the win grants Stubbs an invitation to the Masters next April and an exemption into the Open Championship at Royal Troon in July. Those will be his first two major championship appearances.
“The Masters is something every kid’s ever dreamed of,” Stubbs told the Associated Press. “It’s the one tournament that every golfer wants to play in their life and now that that’s going to be the reality for me, I’m speechless, it’s life-changing. I’m really excited for April now and also for The Open.”
Stubbs was actually as many seven shots back during the afterthought, even as Zheng, who was up by four shots to start the day at three under, started slowly with a double bogey at the 2nd. However, the Australian started his run with a birdie at the 7th and then made more at 11, 13 and 17.
His birdie try from 35 feet at the last came up just short as he finished at one over with Zheng still out on the course at even.
But Zheng three-putted the par-5 17th for bogey and then did well to force the playoff with Ding and Stubbs by getting up and down out of a bunker on 18. A day after shooting an amateur-record 65 at Melbourne’s composite course, which last was in the international spotlight for the 2019 Presidents Cup, Zheng came home with a 75 in blustery conditions.
Both Stubbs and Zheng made birdie putts from outside 25 feet on the first playoff hole, but the second time through, Zheng missed the green. He chipped to about 20 feet and when his par effort lipped out, Stubbs was all but assured the win.