Amateur Ben Eccles wins challenging NSW Open

Victorian amateur Ben Eccles has claimed the 2015 NSW Open Championship, securing the title after a week that delivered challenging weather conditions at Stonecutters Ridge Golf Club.

Eccles started the final round with a four shot lead ahead of New South Welshmen, Peter Lonard and Clayton Bridges.

Ben Eccles 2015 NSW Open champion Ben Eccles (Credit: PGA Australia)

Eccles, who has hit the ball solid all week, fired a final round even par 72 to end his week on 19-under 269 to secure a three shot victory over Rohan Blizard and Matthew Millar.

This is Eccles’ first win on the PGA Tour of Australasia, however, as an amateur, he is ineligible for the prize purse, which will go to Blizard and Millar as the leading professionals.

“I’m absolutely over the moon. I’m speechless, I really don’t know what to say.”

“I was pretty nervous; I didn’t sleep that much last night. I had a chat with my team this morning and went over everything and I’m just stoked.”

The 20-year-old’s performance on the Greg Norman designed layout has been nothing but consistent, appearing calm and comfortable during every round.

Born in the UK, the Victorian surf coast resident has played a number of professional events this season on the PGA Tour of Australasia, with his best finish coming at the Oates Victorian Open in February where he finished tied for third.

The last amateurs to win on the PGA Tour of Australasia were Jake Higginbottom, who made history in 2012 when he became the first amateur since 1956 to win the New Zealand Open, and Oliver Goss, who won the WA Open the same year.

Remaining as an amateur for now, Eccles will now tee iy up at pre-qualifying for the UNIQLO Masters.

However, should Eccles decide to turn professional, he will be able to take up his exemptions on the PGA Tour of Australasia.

In 2013, Eccles won the New South Wales Amateur Championship and earlier this year captained the Victorian Men’s team to interstate victory; going through the series undefeated.

Eccles is in his third year of the Victorian Institute of Sport’s golf program.

Rounding out the top-10 were Tim Hart, Jared Pender, Tom Bond, Daniel Fox and Peter Lonard who all finished on 15-under, while Troy Cox, Mitchell A. Brown and Aaron Wilkin were a further shot back.

The PGA Tour of Australasia will now head to Huntingdale Golf Club for the UNIQLO Masters from 19-22 November.

Source – PGA Australia