By Michael Davis

Wise old heads nodded knowingly when young Victorian golfer, Jasper Stubbs, won a ticket to The Masters in Augusta, Georgia and to the 152nd Open Championship with a come from behind victory in the Asia-Pacific Amateur at Royal Melbourne.

This kid was renowned for his work ethic on and off the golf course, and that included not only working in the gym but also in in his father’s bin business during COVID.

And old timers also liked the fact that young Jasper was a fighter; there were others in elite programs around the country blessed with more brilliance, but none could match his never-say-die attitude and will to hang in against the odds, with all those qualities on display in spades for the good-sized gallery for the final round of the championship.

Stubbs, 21, who plays out of Peninsula Kingswood Country Club, completed his victory at the second playoff hole late on the Sunday of the tournament with a tap-in putt for par at RM’s tough 18th.

“This is a dream come true. I can’t believe it,” Stubbs said. 

Stubbs had started the day well off the pace but a closing 69, including a back nine of 33, vaulted him into a three-way play-off against two outstanding Chinese players in Wenyi Ding and Sampson Zheng.

The final putt was a formality, but it prompted huge celebrations with his Golf Australia teammates spraying him with champagne.

Two-over for the final round through six holes, at that point Stubbs was seven shots behind Zheng, a four-shot leader through 54 holes who signed for a last day 75 that would ultimately cost him the championship.

Moving from Bairnsdale in Gippsland with the family when he was 12, to get himself closer to the action, Stubbs won the 2022 New Zealand Amateur, his biggest victory to that point, but in some ways was overshadowed by others, including his sister Piper, a Royal Melbourne club champion now on a golf scholarship in America who was also in the Golf Australia programs.

Stubbs lives nearby in Highett, has played Royal Melbourne a lot and confessed he benefited from his intimate local knowledge.

“I have a lot of mates who are members here,” he said. “I’ve got one member I’ve been playing with here since I was 14 or 15, so the best part of six or seven years. My sister, as well, is the women’s club champ here. So, I get out here a lot. I knew I had a good strategy for the week, and yeah, it just all came together as well.

“I thought they (his wildly cheering team-mates) were going to get me in the bunker (during the play-off) for a while there. They kept pushing me, my feet weren’t on the ground for a lot of it. I was trying to tell them to stop because we were getting close to that bunker (on the 18th). But I really enjoyed that and I really thank the lads for doing that.”

Jasper Stubbs (centre) with Wenyi Ding (left) and Sampson Zheng.

The winner praised his caddie, veteran bagman Simon Clarke, for planting the psychological seed on the first hole of the tournament, with Stubbs having the honour of taking the field away in the first round.

“He (Clarke) said that it would be pretty awesome to have the first shot and the last putt (for victory) on Sunday,” Stubbs said. 

Stubbs plans to play several practice rounds at Augusta National early next year after his official gilt-edged invitation to the tournament arrives in his letter box.

Come next April, Stubbs will be teeing it up alongside compatriots Cameron Smith, Adam Scott and Jason Day at The Masters, but only after working with his father, Peter, and the family’s skip bin company to make ends meet.

“I’ve done plenty of work with my old man since I finished high school in 2019,” Stubbs said. “I worked all through COVID when there wasn’t much golf happening.

“Whenever I’m home and have a chance to earn a bit of money, I’ve got to make it up somewhere. It’s pretty easy having your dad as your boss.

“And all credit to my parents. I wouldn’t be able to play golf without them.”

Dad Peter and mum Fiona, a pharmacist, moved from their Gippsland home almost a decade ago to allow Jasper to attend school in Melbourne and pursue his golfing dreams. 

In addition to playing The Masters, Stubbs also receives an exemption into The Open Championship, to be played at Royal Troon in 2024. 

Before next year’s exciting schedule kicks in, his feet barely touched the ground since the Royal Melbourne victory in what was a whirlwind period filled with interviews, celebrations, phone calls. 

Stubbs then had some golf to play closer to home, flying straight to Auckland the day after his win to defend his New Zealand amateur title. 

Jasper Stubbs of Australia lines up a putt during the final round of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship being played at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday, October 29, 2023. Photograph by AAC.

He was eventually beaten in the round of 16 in New Zealand after a strong performance in the strokeplay qualifying, before it was back to Victoria after receiving a special invitation to play as an amateur in the Super Sixes Challenger PGA Tour of Australasia event at Warragul east of Melbourne. 

“My game still feels in pretty good shape, and I think I’m a little more rested for this week than I was for New Zealand,” he said before the PGA event.

Stubbs would qualify in the top 24 at the Super Sixes, beat Maverick Antcliff in round one of the matchplay section, before bowing out in a quality six-hole second round contest against Jake McLeod.

Stubbs became the fourth Australian winner of the Asia Pacific Championship, following on from Antonio Murdaca who won at Royal Melbourne in 2014, Curtis Luck in South Korea in 2016 and Harrison Crowe last year in Thailand.

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