The 25-year-old won his first Professional event following a thrilling six-hole playoff against Brett Rankin, who has also confirmed his place in the field.
The pair could not be separated through five playoff holes on the par-3 18th, both making par on all attempts.
On their sixth trip, both Crawford and Rankin hit their tee shot approximately 40 feet from the flag, Rankin eventually made a bogey while Crawford made par for his first victory on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“It was great to finally get the monkey off my back and get that first win,” said Crawford, who is splitting his playing schedule between the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia and events on the China Tour.
“Once you know you can win on that stage it gives you a bit of confidence heading in to other tournaments.”
Crawford started 2018 with a strong showing in the Oates Vic Open, finishing tied for third and made the cut at the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, a field filled with international stars thanks to its tri-sanctioning with the European Tour, Asian Tour and ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia.
“My game is in good shape. I’ve done a lot of work in the off-season and that’s led to some good results early in the year,” added Crawford.
“It’ll be good to go back to Papua New Guinea as defending champion. I haven’t been in that position before so I’m looking forward to it.”
Joining Crawford at the Royal Port Moresby Golf Club will be a strong contingent of Australian Professionals including Daniel Fox, winner of the 2018 Coca-Cola QLD PGA Championship, James Marchesani, who won the Clearwater Bay Open on the PGA TOUR – China and Steven Jeffress, inaugural champion of the Fiji International, presented by Fiji Airways in 2014.
2018 marks the third year the SP PNG Golf Open has been part of the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia, meaning the winner will receive Official World Golf Ranking points and full exemption on the Tour for the remainder of the year and the 2019 season.
Through the exemption, the winner receives automatic entry in to the Tour’s marquee tournaments including the Fiji International presented by Fiji Airways, ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth, Australian Open and Australian PGA Championship.
For Crawford, the security on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia gave him piece of mind to test his skill internationally, which he successfully did, earning status on the China Tour with a top-10 result in their Qualifying School.
“Winning in PNG certainly took some pressure off with a guaranteed start in every tournament on the Tour,” added Crawford.
“It gives you a bit of freedom to plan a playing schedule on some international Tours and test yourself overseas like I have in China this year.”
The SP PNG Open tournament continues to grow on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia with yet another increase in prize money in 2018 to AU$145,000.
“Our journey with the Golf Open has been an exciting and successful partnership over the last 12 years, with the event evolving in reputation and status,” said SP Brewery’s Managing Director, Stan Joyce.
Befitting the biggest Golf event in the country, this year’s is supported by PNG’s biggest brand and number one beer – SP Lager.
“SP Lager has a long and successful history of supporting both grassroots and elite sport in PNG and we are proud that our number one brand is the official beer for the Open,” said Joyce.
(2017 champion Cory Crawford – Photo credit: PGA of Australia)