Niciejewski wins 2019 ISPS HANDA Australian Open

Golf Australia Magazine

Article by Mark Hayes

Glen Niciejewski and caddie Peter Harrington<br/>celebrate their victory at Collier Park.

Glen Niciejewski and caddie Peter Harrington
celebrate their victory at Collier Park.

Queenslander Glen Niciejewski is a massive Tiger Woods fan.

And while the American has pulled off many miraculous comebacks in his legendary career, it’s doubtful he’s managed one as fast-finishing as the newly crowned Australian Blind Open champion.

The man known to all in the blind golf community as “Juicy” played a back nine for the ages today to storm to his first national championship.

And while his golf excited those at Collier Park in Perth’s southern suburbs, it was nothing compared to the pure joy Niciejewski felt afterwards.

“I can’t believe it. I made an 8m putt on the last hole and said to Peter (caddie and coach Peter Harrington) that I reckon that was a (back-nine score of nett) 30,” Niciejewski beamed.

“I just started `yahooing’ everywhere around the place because I knew it was good and it was such a great place to do it, but I didn’t realise I’d won it (at that stage).

“Then we added them all up and people told me I was in front and, mate, I’m just absolutely on top of the world.

“I’m the Australian Blind Open champion … how good is that?”

Niciejewski began the second day five shots adrift of New South Welshman Graham Coulton in the 36-hole nett tournament.

And that deficit had stretched to seven when former British Blind Open champion Coulton played the front nine in nett 34 and looked to have the title in his keeping.

But Niciejewski, the youngest in the field at 42, had other ideas.

“I was even par after the front nine, but I just ripped the course apart on the back nine,” he beamed.

“I just started bombing everything – drivers, fairway woods, irons, everything up to the greens. All my putts were stopping short, a metre short, a foot short – that was annoying – but the rest of it was really good.”

A nett eagle on the 12th was followed by nett birdies on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th holes to reach nine under in total.

But even his back-nine 30 required some help from Coulton, who watched his own title hopes come to grief in the greenside sand on the par-five 17th which he found in three shots, but took eight more to get down, eventually finishing three back at a six-under total.

“I feel sorry for Graham, that was tough,” Niciejewski said.

“But that 69 was my best score in a tournament on day one, then to take another three off it today, I’m just rapt.

“I told my wife Jodie that if my mate Tiger can come from five behind, so can I.

“And I did it.”

Asked what he thought Woods would say if he’d been there to witness Niciejewski’s feat, the Queenslander – who dressed in Tiger’s trademark black and red for today’s final round – said he wouldn’t want the 15-time major champ’s words.

“I’d just want him to come and give me a big man hug,” Niciejewski said with a broad smile.

The Loganlea resident, who said he was obsessed with golf, credits wife Jodie and Harrington, husband of ALPG Tour member and director of development Lee, for his development.

“I first played in 2010 and have just loved it since. Every time I get the chance and Jodie can take me down to see Peter at the Golf School at Palm Meadows driving range on the Gold Coast, I take it.

“Peter’s improved my game so much. My blind golf handicap is 49 and my (Golf Australia) handicap is 36 and it’s my aim to beat that, get down below that 36.”

Niciejewski, Coulton and a handful of other competitors won’t have too much time to celebrate their achievements with a flight taking them to compete in the Japan Blind Golf Open next week.

“We are all incredibly grateful to Dr Handa and ISPS for all the support and sponsorship they offer this tournament and blind golf in general,” Niciejewski said.

“Dr Handa is taking us to Japan now and hopefully we can do something special over there, too.”

Reproduced from the Golf Australia Magazine.