Aussie golfer Louis Dobbelaar claims first pro success
Louis Dobbelaar's wait for a maiden professional victory is officially over after the 21-year-old Queenslander out-duelled local hope Sung Jin Yeo to claim the New Zealand PGA Championship at Gulf Harbour Country Club by three shots.
Dobbelaar entered the pro ranks in November 2021 as the reigning Australian Amateur champion and with credentials that would suggest a smooth transition.
From the same Grant Field stable as Cameron Smith, Dobbelaar finished third in consecutive weeks at the Australian PGA Championship and Queensland PGA Championship in early 2022 yet that first win remained elusive.
Dobbelaar is also a clubmate of Ash Barty's at Brookwater GC in Brisbane.
He won the men's club championship in 2020 when Barty won the women's while taking time out from the WTA Tour during the pandemic.
Entering this week, he was without a top-10 finish anywhere in the world in almost 12 months yet played the first 52 holes bogey-free on his way to a three-stroke victory.
A one-stroke leader when play began in Auckland on Sunday, Dobbelaar stumbled with a double bogey at the par-3 third to keep the door open for Yeo to cause a stunning upset.
But, just as he did as a 15-year-old at the 2016 New Zealand Amateur championship, Dobbelaar had his father Vince on the bag as a steadying influence for the final round.
The pair regrouped and played the final 11 holes in even par to post 20-under and release the weight of expectation that comes with a breakthrough win.
"Pretty special to have (my Dad) here. He saw me win the NZ Am so it was nice that he could see me do this as well," Dobbelaar said.
Dobbelaar and Yeo began the back nine locked together at 20-under par.
Matching birdies on 10 took the deadlock to 21-under but the ascendancy soon swung Dobbelaar's way.
Yeo made bogey at the par-4 11th, then a double bogey on 12 to fall three back, while Dobbelaar gave one back with bogey at the par-3 13th.
That would his last mis-step, with pars on the final five holes keeping his advantage over Yeo, who made bogey on the last to drop to 17-under.
"We were a few shots ahead so I guess it was pretty neck-and-neck but nothing really changed. My process stayed the same," said Dobbelaar.
"Little bit of a shaky start making double on three but it wasn't so much a bad shot, I just mis-read the wind.
"That kicked me into gear a little bit."