Harrison Crowe rallies to win Asia-Pacific Amateur, earn major invites

Harrison Crowe rallies to win Asia-Pacific Amateur, earn major invites
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Harrison Crowe’s Asia-Pacific Amateur hopes were dwindling. The 21-year-old Aussie coughed up a two-shot lead after a bogey on the opening hole, and through 10 of Sunday’s final round at Amata Spring Country Club, Crowe trailed China’s Bo Jin by three strokes.

Crowe entered the week in Chonburi, Thailand, with a decent consolation prize already in his back pocket; should he fail to win, he’d be off to the professional ranks in a matter of days.

But Crowe remained motivated. With AAC glory, plus exemptions into next year’s Masters and Open Championship, on the line, Crowe carded four back-nine birdies and a hard-fought par on the last to claw back for a one-shot victory over Jin.

“I certainly had to dig deep,” said Crowe, who joins Antonio Murdaca and Curtis Luck as Australian champions of the AAC. “At the turn, I kind of told my dad and his mate that I just needed one [putt] to go in, just one to drop, and from there, I backed myself to keep it going.”

Jin, a junior at Oklahoma State whose brother, Cheng, won this championship in 2015, tied Crowe for the lead early on Sunday with a tap-in birdie on the first hole. He later eagled the par-4 12th hole to keep a three-shot lead over Crowe intact.

But a bogey by Jin at the next and a costly double bogey at the 129-yard, par-3 17th hole, in which Jin’s tee ball found the water short, allowed Crowe back in it with four birdies in a five-hole stretch starting at No. 11.

Crowe bogeyed No. 16 and nearly the par-4 closing hole. After finding the fairway, Crowe, clinging to a one-stroke advantage, yanked his 181-yard approach shot nearly into the water.

“I thought it was going to go in the water,” Crowe said. “I pulled it, but I flushed it. … I was just hoping that it just caught a bit of grass.”

The ball stayed up, and Crowe got up and down to seal his title. Jin was relegated to runner-up his third top-10 at the AAC since 2019.

“This is not the position I wanted to be in,” Jin said, “but I am very proud of the way I played this whole week. You just can’t take anything away from Crowe and the way he played the back nine.”

For Crowe, the performance validated his year. He began 2021 with wins at the Australian Master of the Amateurs, New South Wales Amateur and New South Wales Open, the latter being a professional event. He followed that with a runner-up in another pro tournament, the National PGA Classic, in early April.

But when the summer arrive and Crowe hopped on planes for long stints in Europe and the U.S., his game trailed off. He finished outside the top 25 at the European Amateur, Southern Amateur and World Amateur Team Championship while missing match play by miles at the British Amateur, Western Amateur and U.S. Amateur.

“I just had a really good start to this year back home in Australia,” Crowe said, “and obviously I didn’t play very good golf throughout the middle part of the year overseas and I just kind of felt like I was just – not getting forgotten, but it was just like I need to prove myself to my country, my golf clubs, just everyone, that I’m still here.”

Ranked No. 43 and expected to rise sharply in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Crowe will stay put as an amateur for now. With two major invites next year, he needs to hold off turning pro until at least next July.

Fine by him.

“I did have the plan to more than likely turn pro after this week, but it’s a good reason not to,” Crowe said. “Plenty of things ahead for me that are super exciting.”

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