Kieran Muir wasn’t part of the conversation entering the final round of the Taranaki Open. By the end of Sunday, he owned the narrative at the famed Ngamotu Links.
A sensational final round 64 saw the Omokoroa pro claim the penultimate Charles Tour title of 2020 with a -14, 202 aggregate for his second title on the New Zealand’s mixed gender pro-am circuit.
Muir rocketed from four shots adrift of co-leaders Josh Geary and Daniel Hiller starting Sunday at the weather-shortened event to triumph by four strokes from five players on -10: Geary, Hillier, 2017 New Zealand Open champion Michael Hendry, Marton pro Lachie McDonald and Rangiora’s Momoka Kobori who finished as the low female and the leading amateur. Kobori’s brother Kazuma finished a shot further back in a share of 7th with Auckland pro Woonchul Na.
Muir, whose maiden Charles Tour win came at Akarana in 2016, had been looking forward to the resumption of the domestic season post Covid only to fall ill.
“I was playing really well leading up to the DVS Pegasus Open and I got a bit crook. I went missing for a couple of weeks which was poor timing.”
Unfazed, Muir had a simple game plan on Sunday while the focus was on Geary and Hillier who were chasing what would have been a record sixth or fourth Charles Tour titles respectively.
“I just wanted to go out there and shoot the lowest score I possibly could, and I managed to do that. I’m stoked. I knew my game was close,” Muir said
“Two titles sound better than one. I was starting to question whether the first one was a fluke.”
Muir’s stellar final round was ample evidence he is far from a one hit wonder.
He opened with a birdie and made three more at the 4th, 5th and 7th to make the turn at three-under par despite a bogey at the 9th. He started the homeward nine two shots back of Hillier but made that ground up with further gains on the 11th and 12th and took full control on the 13th when he drove the green and rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt to move two shots clear. It was a lead Muir wouldn’t relinquish.
“I’ve been a professional for 10 years now and there has been a lot of hard work that has gone into my golf,” Muir said.
“It’s not easy to win out here, I was talking to Dom [Barson] and we were saying it’s very hard to win these events as there are plenty of good players now. I’m just stoked to get another over the line.”
LEADING Final round scores at the 2020 Taranaki Open at New Plymouth Golf Club (Par 72):
202: Kieran Muir (Omokoroa) 68 70 64
206: Michael Hendry (PGA New Zealand) 70 70 66, Momoka Kobori (Rangiora) 69 71 66, Lachie McDonald (Marton) 67 69 70, Josh Geary (PGA New Zealand) 68 66 72, Daniel Hillier (PGA New Zealand) 65 69 72
207: Kazuma Kobori (Rangiora) 70 67 70, Woonchul Na (PGA New Zealand) 66 69 72
208: James Anstiss (PGA New Zealand) 66 70 72
209: James Hydes (Gulf Harbour Country Club) 70 71 68, Luke Toomey (PGA New Zealand) 67 72 70
210: Fraser MacLachlan (PGA New Zealand) 74 70 66, Tae Koh (Windross Farm Golf Course) 70 71 69, Chang Gi Lee (PGA New Zealand) 69 71 70
211: Luke Brown (PGA New Zealand) 70 75 66, Fraser Wilkin (P, PGA New Zealand) 69 72 70
212: Harry Bateman (PGA New Zealand) 74 68 70, Mark Brown (PGA New Zealand) 68 73 71, Dongwoo Kang (PGA New Zealand) 71 70 71, Joshua Bai (Akarana) 70 71 71, Mako Thompson (Maraenui) 72 69 71, Sung Jin Yeo (PGA New Zealand) 69 70 73
213: Daniel Pearce (PGA New Zealand) 71 73 69, Troy Ropiha (PGA New Zealand) 74 70 69, Jordan Loof (PGA New Zealand) 74 69 70, Sam An (Titirangi) 69 69 75
214: Tara Raj (Wanganui) 73 70 71
215: Gareth Paddison (PGA New Zealand) 74 75 66, Tyler Wood (Palmerston North) 75 71 69, Grant Moorhead (PGA New Zealand) 70 73 72
216: Kit Bittle (Gulf Harbour Country Club) 77 69 70, Inia Logan (Cromwell) 71 74 71, Kerry Mountcastle (Masterton) 73 72 71, Douglas Holloway (PGA New Zealand) 71 72 73.