The comparisons to Greg Norman were impossible to ignore at Royal Queensland as Jed Morgan, a fresh-faced kid with flowing blond hair, destroyed the field to win by a record margin in just his fourth professional event.
The 22-year-old Queenslander won the Australian PGA Championship by a record 11 shots on Sunday, beating the eight-stroke margin Norman managed in back-to-back wins in 1984-85.
Morgan’s 22-under total was also the equal lowest score-to-par since the event moved to stroke play in 1964, with nobody younger winning it since then.
Rounds of 65, 63, 65 and 69 at his home course were filled with fist-pumps and cries to the thousands that attended the first major Australian golf tournament in more than two years.
And it caught the eye of 2006 US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy, who said after Morgan’s course record 63 on Friday his efforts harked back to when an unknown Norman announced himself by winning the West Lakes Classic by five shots in 1976.
Like Morgan, that win came in Norman’s fourth professional start.
Morgan, also a talented rugby league player, who admitted to being physically ill before he began his final round with a nine-shot lead, read Ogilvy’s comments too.
“I saw that and I just laughed,” Morgan said.
“But I’m not playing with any type of names in the back of my head. The best thing I’ve done this week is be myself for the first time in a long time on the golf course.
“I was just glad it was at home and I was able to do it in a manner that was pretty exciting for other people as well and I can’t wait to do it many more times.”
Morgan said his exuberant fist pumps and yells were necessary to stave off the nervous tension after he dramatically exceeded his goal of making the cut to lead by six shots into the weekend.
“I just tried to give myself an out-of-body experience, I just felt so many emotions … I just yelled to get it out of my system and if I didn’t I would’ve been sick,” he said.
“It’s just part of me … coming to play golf is very different (to rugby league). Being quiet all the time, I just tried to embrace myself.”
Morgan, who missed out on PGA TOUR Latinoamerica status last year, said he had finished 2021 with doubts about his game.
Now he’s eyeing full status on Europe’s DP World Tour later this year, given his $180,000 winner’s cheque has boosted him well clear on the Australasian Tour’s order of merit.
“I’d never imagine this would ever happen … I wanted to just make the cut this week,” he said.
“I’d missed a couple of tour schools in the US towards the end of my trip and come back a little bit with my tail between my legs.
“It’s been pretty sick … but the last two days, I’m just glad it’s over because I’ve been in all sorts.
“I’ve never felt pressure like the way I’ve felt it this week.”
Morgan has the chance to win two Australian PGA Championship titles in one year, with the event to return to its usual late-year slot.
It will rejoin the DP World Tour, bringing with it a $2 million purse and likely return of some big names, after COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 event and shifted the 2021 version into the new year.