8 Feb 2016

Long produces 'miracle' shot to win in Victoria

9:41 am on 8 February 2016

New Zealand golfer Michael Long stopped just short of saying the remarkable chip shot he hit in the playoff to win the Victorian Open was a fluke.

The New Zealand golfer Michael Long.

The New Zealand golfer Michael Long. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

But he readily admitted it was a one-in-100 effort, at best.

Australian Matthew Millar had forced the tournament into sudden death by birdieing the final three holes of regulation at 13th Beach, including a monster putt on the 17th.

Millar then looked to have one hand on the trophy when 47-year-old Long hooked his three-wood approach shot on the first playoff hole into a hazard.

His initial fear was that the ball was lost.

Instead it was stuck in long reeds, a couple of feet off the ground.

"Once I got there it was a case of 'right, I've got to somehow at least make five and keep the playoff going'," he said.

"It was sitting up high so it was a little baseball shot and I said to my caddy 'here we go, it's a wing and a prayer' and it came out perfect.

"What can you say? I don't want to say it was a pure fluke because I had some idea what I was going to do.

"But I could not do that again in probably 100 attempts."

The 40-metre chip came out perfectly and ended up 1.5m from the hole.

Millar left his longer birdie attempt short, opening the door for Long, who drained his putt.

Long's previous victories include the 1996 New Zealand Open, the 1999 Greg Norman International and a couple of events on what is now the Web.com tour in the US.

"I was just trying to remain patient and let the birdies happen because I was playing really well until I struck 16, 17 and 18 and then the playoff hole," said Long, who also made brilliant up-and-downs for par at two of the last three holes of regulation.

"I hit some good shots, I hit a lot of great recovery shots.

"But when you've seen it all before there's a lot of ways you can win a tournament."

Long joined Walter Godfrey (1972) and Gareth Paddison (2004) as the third New Zealander to claim the Victorian Open.

The 39-year-old Millar won last year's NZ PGA championship and looked almost certain to salute again at 13th Beach when he hit his third shot on the par-five 18th playoff hole to the heart of the green after Long had lashed his ball into the hazard.

"You don't assume anything in golf because you can always hole it from anywhere," said Millar.

"But to be honest walking on the green I thought 'we're a red hot chance to at least go one more hole here' because I certainly wouldn't have backed him to get it up and down."

Long and Millar both shot closing rounds of three-under 69 to finish regulation at 13-under 275.

Australians Aron Price (70) and Scott Strange (70) tied for third at 277.

Third-round leader Adam Blyth had a day to forget, carding a final-round of 78 to slip back to a tie for 19th.