Sandbelt Invitational Day 4
Brady Watt is not the only winner from a memorable final round at Peninsula Kingswood
By Alan Shipnuck
Every aspiring tour pro has had the same reverie: a big lead on the final hole, an adoring home crowd, a walk-off birdie to win the tournament. Brady Watt lived the dream at the inaugural Sandbelt Invitational, putting an exclamation point on a plucky new event. Watt’s final-hole birdie on Thursday came in front of a lively gallery at his home course, jaw-dropping Peninsula Kingswood. After eight tough years as a pro he had finally secured his first victory.
“That walk up the last…just stunning,” an emotional Watt said afterward. “I waited a long time for this. To stand here as a champion is pretty surreal.”
In addition to earning a spot in the field for the upcoming Australian PGA Championship, Watt (below) now has a lifetime invite to the Sandbelt. As tournament director Mike Clayton told him, “Like Horton Smith and the Masters—as long as you’re around, you can play forever.”
Watt’s smooth 70 gave him a fourth straight round at par or better, which added up to a score of 10 under and a commanding 6-stroke victory. But one of the charms of the Sandbelt Invitational is that there is more than one winner. At even par, Grace Kim earned recognition as the low female professional. (She tied for sixth overall.) Jye Pickin was the men’s amateur champion, while Geneath Wong secured women’s amateur champ honors. Tournament patriarch Geoff Ogilvy played the final round with Wong, a future Pepperdine Wave, and afterward was raving about a handful of her up-and-downs.
“When we were kids we never this chance,” Ogilvy said. “We know these [young players] are going to be under-the-pump this week. That’s part of it, right? We all freak out at first. But every time you do it, you get better at handling it.”
The same principle applies for an event Clayton says was done “completely on the fly.” Having visited Kingston Heath, Royal Melbourne and Yarra Yarra in the preceding rounds, the Invitational was a showcase for the awe-inspiring Sandbelt courses and it provided a feel-good finish to what was a trying year for Australia’s best golfers, who had few opportunities to compete because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Said Ogilvy, “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”