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Amateur Higginbottom wins New Zealand Open

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Jake Higginbottom, 19, on Sunday became the first amateur in more than 50 years to win the New Zealand Open. He closed with a 5-under 67 to win the event by one stroke, and then vowed to return next season – as a professional.

“It’s good to come over here and play against all the professionals and see that you’re just as good,” Higginbottom said, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The teen from New South Wales, who tied for 10th at the recent Australian Masters, is 29th in the R&A’s amateur rankings. He also became the second Australian teen to win in the past month on the PGA Australasia Tour, after Oliver Goss won the Western Australian Open on Oct. 28.

Because he won the event as an amateur, Higginbottom was unable to claim the $91,447 winner’s check; that prize was split between runners-up Jason Norris and Peter Wilson.

“It doesn’t worry me,” Higginbottom said, according to the report. “I just think it’s another stepping stone. I still plan to turn (pro) next year.”

The last amateur to win the New Zealand Open was Harry Berwick in 1956.