The prospects of a tightly contested battle in the final round of the Carrus Tauranga Open on Sunday were well and truly blown away by an exceptional round of attacking golf from former European Tour pro Mark Brown.
He shot a scintillating final round of 69 to finish at 17-under for the week, four shots ahead of in-form Taupo professional Troy Rohipa, with Bradley Kendall from Mount Maunganui finishing as the leading amateur a further eight shots back.
Brown started the day five shots behind overnight leader and amateur Blair Riordan and four behind Rohipa, but it did not take him long to gain ascendancy.
A birdie on the first was the perfect start before he made his first real statement of the day on the elevated third tee. He decided to take on the towering pine trees and out-of-bounds lines and succeeded, hitting his drive onto the green 315-metres away.
He tapped in for birdie and then repeated the feat on the fourth and six holes, before the tournament's defining moment came on the par-5 seventh hole.
Brown hit the 428-metre dogleg in two shots, then sunk a massive 60 foot putt to eagle the hole and go six-under for the day. When playing partner Rohipa bogeyed the hole, Brown was suddenly three shots clear and never looked back as he chased down his second Charles Tour victory since the 2006 Taranaki Open.
More birdies followed on holes 11 and 12 before he missed a good chance to go nine-under for the day at the par-5 13th hole that snakes around the racecourse.
By now Brown had a comfortable four shot lead and a murmur went round the beautifully groomed Tauranga course that a rare sub-60 round was possible.
But despite hitting the greens in regulation, he was not able to slide another birdie putt home but played error-free golf to ensure his first win on any tour since 2008.
Brown was clearly elated to play so well under pressure to win.
"Even though you play bigger tournaments around the world, you still feel the same pressures of trying to close out the last few holes," he said. "It was pleasing that what I have been working on stood up under that pressure and I felt really good.
"I tried to be patient today because I was getting so rattled by not holing putts. On the front side I hit a couple of putts that were going way too hard and just smacked into the bottom of the hole and stayed there, which gave me a lot of confidence. They weren't particularly good putts but they went in and I hadn't been seeing that all week, so it really spurred me on."
Brown's approach to golf's on-course challenges is to take them on head-on. He faced that on the third tee, and his positive approach kick-started his round.
"I don't like being nervous or cautious so today when I was starting out, and towards the end, I just played with a lot of courage to take the shots on. I don't think playing by fear is a good way to go, so on the third hole I thought if I get a good one away I will go close to the green.
"That was my target so I just hit it as hard as I could and it is a good feeling when you pull it off."
Brown was full of praise for the organisation of the tournament and the way the course was presented. His goal is for New Zealand-based golfers to have more quality tournaments like the Carrus Tauranga Open to compete in.
"The week was brilliant," he said. "The course is excellent and gets the scoring low, which is important to learn when you get on tour because most of the scoring is low. We just need more of them. It would be great if we could play 10 or 12 of these a year because it is good for the amateurs to get some competition and for the pros to get some money in their back pockets."
The winner of the women's section was Rebecca Tsai, who did not lead at any stage of the tournament until late in the final round. The 16 year-old is originally from Otago and now resides in Los Angeles.
Tsai shot a solid round of 73 to clinch the title by two shots from Te Teko's Susan Lines, with Grace Senior from Tauranga fourth and Rotorua's Heather Lavery fifth.
Mark Brown -17
Troy Rohipa -13
Bradley Kendall -9 (a)
Kieran Muir -7
Peter Spearman-Burn -7
Blair Riordan -7 (a)
Owen Burgess -6 (a)
Rebecca Tsai +7
Susan Lines +9
Brittney Dryland +10
Grace Senior +11
Heather Lavery +17