Victorian Nathan Holman has taken top honours in the Australian PGA Championship, courtesy of a dramatic finish at RACV Royal Pines Resort on the Gold Coast.
The Woodlands Golf Club member was flying the flag for the Aussie contingent, and headed into the final day as the highest-placed Australian and well within reach of engraving his name on the Kirkwood Cup.
It was far from a textbook start to the final round for eventual champion Holman, after a double bogey on the first hole for the second consecutive day. He was quick to steady the ship and began to grind away in tough scoring conditions, picking up birdies on 9, 12 and 15 to find himself leading by two.
Bogeys on his final two holes, however, proved costly, with Holman ending the day tied for the lead with South African Dylan Frittelli and American Harold Varner III on even par 288.
The trio entered a sudden-death playoff. A par on the first trip down 18 proved to be enough for victory for the 24-year-old Holman, as Frittelli and Varner could only manage bogeys.
“It’s crazy,” said Holman. “Walking off that 18th hole when I hit that shot onto the green, it kind of started to feel like the legs were a little bit shaky, kind of probably thinking into the future a little bit and I tried to snap out of that. Obviously had a little bit of help there with the two guys making bogey, but to win the event, it’s an amazing feeling.”
This was the seventh time that the Australian PGA Championship has been decided in a playoff.
The Australian PGA Championship is the first tournament on the European Tour schedule for 2016 and with his win, Holman will receive exemption on the European Tour for the remainder of 2016 season followed by 2017. He also receives a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia and an invitation to the 2016 World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational.
The AU$315,000 prize cheque also sees Holman secure the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit in which he will receive an invitation to The Open Championship 14-17 July at Royal Troon in Scotland.
“It’s huge. I didn’t realise what was on the line really,” Holman said. “I did think I’d get to those events in the future. I didn’t think it was going to be this quickly.
“For a young Australian guy to be able to go and play those events, play British Opens, it’s stuff you dream of playing golf when you’re a kid. It’s going to be an amazing feeling and to do it off the back of a victory I think is probably going to be better. I can go there knowing that I’ve done something really good to be here.”
Rounding out the top-10 were, South African Zander Lombard who finished fourth on 1-over 289 taking out the Kel Nagle Plate for the best performing rookie while Queensland’s Cameron Smith secured fifth spot on 2-over 290.
In a tie for sixth, Dimitrios Papadatos, Richard Green and Matthew Millar ended their week on 3-over 291. While Adam Stephens, Peter Lonard, Mathew Goggin, Jordan Zunic, Anthony Brown, Nino Bertasio, Matthew Griffin, Rory Bourke and David Lingmerth all ended their week on 4-over 292.