Young gun Tanner creates history in championships
Tanner, a member of both the Club and Golf SA Junior High Performance Squads, showed maturity and composure well beyond his 14 years to overcome Olsen in an epic final lasting 35 holes.
The experienced Olsen – the 2015 RF Stevens Trophy champion as leading qualifier – went into Sunday’s final as favourite but was slow to start, going 3 down after four holes as Tanner got the jump on the 2015 Pennant Player of the Year. Despite his best efforts at grinding out a response, Olsen was unable to make any tangible ground on the youngster who went into the lunch break 3 up after the first 18 holes.
When Olsen three putted the first hole in the afternoon, and Tanner holed a 40 metre pitch for par on the 2nd, things were looking grim for Olsen, however he composed himself over the next few holes with a stretch of solid golf to claw back the deficit to only one hole after the 28th (10th hole). With minimal change in the score over the next few holes, Tanner missed an important short putt on the par 3 14th hole for the match to fall back to square with only four to play.
A solid drive from Olsen on the 15th, and a wayward driver into the left hand trees by Tanner, put the early favourite back in the box seat for victory, and when Olsen’s sterling approach into the 15th green finished 15 feet from the flag, the momentum had swung and the end result was looking ominous for the youngster. However, a remarkable recovery shot from the trees left Tanner 30 feet from the pin, and in true “no-fear” junior style, he proceeded to bin the uphill left-to-right bender for birdie. Olsen missed his birdie putt and the momentum once again switched back to the 14-year old.
Two pars from both players on the par 3, 16th hole, saw Tanner head to the 17th tee with a one hole lead and the pressure seemingly off. Tanner played a solid driver just short of the fairway trap whilst Olsen lost his drive to the left, finishing in the water. With confidence growing, a solid approach to the 17th green by Tanner all but sealed victory for the teenager and two putts saw history made as the Club’s youngest ever winner of the AJ Roberts Championship Cup.
It was a remarkable effort from Tanner, who only recently returned from the Club’s High Performance Squad 5-day junior trip to Melbourne for the Australian Masters, with the experience clearly having an impression on the youngster’s form throughout the championship matchplay rounds.
Tanner is certainly a player to watch in the future.