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Louis Dobeler’s wait for a first professional win is officially over after the 21-year-old Queenslander edged past local hope Sung Jin Yeo by three shots to claim the New Zealand PGA Championship at Gulf Harbor Country Club.
Dobeler enters the pro ranks in November 2021 as the Australian Amateur Champion and with credentials that would suggest a smooth transition.
From the same Grant Field stable as Cameron Smith, Dobler finished third in consecutive weeks at the Australian PGA Championship and Queensland PGA Championship at the start of 2022, yet a first win remained elusive.
Dobbelaar is also a clubmate of Ash Barty at Brookwater GC in Brisbane.
They won the men’s club championship in 2020 after Barty won the women’s while taking time off from the WTA Tour during the pandemic.
Entering this week, he had not been in the top-10 anywhere in the world in nearly 12 months, yet played the first 52 holes without bogeys on his way to a three-stroke victory.
When play began in Auckland on Sunday, the one-stroke leader, Dobelar faltered with a double bogey on the par-3 third, leaving the door open for Yeo to pull off a surprising upset.
But, as he did as a 15-year-old at the 2016 New Zealand Amateur Championship, Dobellar had his father Vince by his side for the final round.
The pair regrouped and played the final 11 holes at even par to post 20-under and ease the weight of expectation that comes with a breakthrough victory.
“Having (my father) here is very special. He saw me win the New Zealand Am so it was nice that he could see me do it too,” said Dobbelaar.
Dobeler and Yeo locked together a 20-under par on the back nine.
A matching birdie on 10 took the impasse to 21-under, but the lead soon swung Dobler’s way.
Yeo bogeyed the par-4 11th, then double bogeyed the 12th to go three behind, while Dobbler mounted a comeback with a bogey on the par-3 13th.
It would turn out to be his last blunder as Paras maintained his advantage over Yeo on the final five holes, who bogeyed the last to finish at 17-under.
“We were a few shots ahead so I think it was pretty neck and neck but nothing really changed. My process stayed the same,” Dobellar said.
“The start of making the double on three was a bit shaky, but it wasn’t such a bad shot, I just misread the wind.
“It kicked me into gear a little bit.”