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Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Narrabri drawing played host to the 2024 Women’s NSW Open Golf Regional Qualifying Event this week, drawing in golfers from around the globe.

Katja Pogacar’s 2474-day wait for a professional title is over, bursting down the door to claim her maiden victory on any tour and lock away a spot in the 2024 Women’s NSW Open Golf Championship with a come-from-behind win..

The Slovenian had to endure a nailbiting playoff to do it against no less than Cecilia (Jeongmin) Cho, the Duntryleague RQ Winner and Lydia Hall, who claimed victory in the Dubbo Qualifying event just last Tuesday.

A member of the pay-for-play ranks for almost seven years, Pogacar had learnt to temper her expectations about when, or even if, she would ever join the winner’s circle.

“I haven’t had a professional win yet. I’ve been on tour for six years now, so it would be really cool. We’ll see what happens,” Pojacar said.

The 29-year-old’s days of keeping her expectations about finally claiming a win on tour ended at precisely 3.10 pm on Saturday, almost seven years since she turned pro prior to pre-qualifying for the 2017 US Women’s Open. 

“I just loved it out there today. I didn’t even know until I made the par putt on 18 (in regulation ) that we had to have a playoff,” The rookie winner grinned.

Starting the day in the final group two shots adrift of the overnight leader, Hall, and alongside Joengmin Cho and Queensland-based Cook Islander Elmay Viking, Pogacar didn’t get off to the best of starts, a double bogey on the first wiping out her advantage over Cho, who started with a birdie to announce her intentions for the day.

Thankfully, a couple of birdies on the 3rd settled the nerves, and despite a bogey on the 9th, with Hall battling a misbehaving putter and a few wayward approaches, the Slovenian had drawn to within one.

Cho, meanwhile, was a player on the move, and the former world amateur number one looked seemingly in control of the tournament after being around the testy Narrabri front nine in two under. 

A birdie on the 10th saw Pogacar grab a share of the lead fleetingly, but she promptly handed it back on the very next with an ill-timed bogey. 

Determination, though, is a character Potgacar has in abundance. When she most needed to dig deep, she did with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13. Hall matched her immediately, but the momentum seemed to swing Slovenians’ way.

The final few holes were a nervous affair for the final group, and Hall was the first to blink, bogeying the par-five 14th. The trio then helped the final player in the group, Elmay Viking, back into the contest by bogeying the 16th. However, that was about as close as it would get.

A clutch par from each combatant on the final hole was enough to ensure a playoff, which Potgacar claimed thrillingly.

“My driver was not the best today at all, but I had to keep chugging along,” said Potgacar.

“All I wanted to do was give myself an opportunity to make the playoff, which I did.”

“Then (on the playoff hole) I had to keep telling myself, just like practice, just like practice! I wanted to make the putt, which I did, and I’m super happy,” 

“I was actually more excited about the qualifying spot in the NSW Open., but the win feels amazing.”


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