Two time Australian PGA champion Greg Chalmers has notched an emotional maiden PGA TOUR victory at the Barracuda Championship in Nevada, punctuated with a stunning 72nd hole eagle.
Chalmers, one of the most popular players both in Australia and the US, hit the shot of a lifetime to the 72nd hole under intense pressure to close out the win in the modified stableford scoring format.
After 385 starts in America, Chalmers became the second Australian to hoist the trophy after Geoff Ogilvy in 2014.
The win not only earns him a two year exemption back to the PGA TOUR after losing full status last year but also gains him a place in The Open Championship in two weeks’ time.
Chalmers felt the nerves after taking the lead into the final round and as long hitting Gary Woodland applied pressure from in front over the closing stages the left hander made some mistakes.
Three back nine bogies saw Chalmers head to the final hole with a lead of just one point but when Woodland stumbled with an unlikely bogey he knew par would be good enough to seal the deal.
Chalmers spoke at length after winning the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort in 2014 about needing to take the confidence he feels playing in Australia to the big stage in America.
His final round 63 on the Gold Coast that day, and the seven holes of extra time before he finally overcame Adam Scott, looked to be a turning point for the affable 42-year-old but he struggled in 2015.
This year hasn’t been much easier with Chalmers playing the bulk of his golf on the secondary Web.com Tour where he has posted two top-10 finishes and sits 74th on the money list.
However, victory in Nevada has swept away all the frustration; Chalmers was clearly emotional in the aftermath of the victory.
“In golf you always have to think something good is around the corner,” said Chalmers, as he held back tears on the 18th green.
“I thought my game was close and today I got rewarded. Every time something could go the wrong way during the week it worked out good for me.”
“Today was a battle but the first three days it went really well for me.”
Chalmers said he thought he would need a grandstand finish but after hitting his tee shot on the 18th was told about Woodland’s bogey.
“I thought I was in trouble because I thought Gary would birdie the last,” added Chalmers.
“But they told me he made bogey and I just needed to make par and I crushed that drive and hit the best shot….the only good shot I hit today, I think.”
While Chalmers was a popular winner he wasn’t the only Australian smiling on Sunday after Lismore’s Rhein Gibson made an albatross on his final hole.
The incredible shot won him $100,000 to donate to a charity of his choice but also helped him to T25, his best finish of a tumultuous rookie season on the PGA TOUR.
Gibson elected to donate the money to Chalmer’s charity; MAXimum Chances which helps children with Autism Spectrum Disorders gain access to educational services, therapies and cutting edge bio-medical treatments.
Cameron Percy also had a good final round, his 14 points for the day lifting him to T13, one point ahead of Aaron Baddeley whose T17 finish has all but guaranteed his card for 2017.
Former winner Geoff Ogivly (T35), Rod Pampling (T44) and Cameron Smith (65th) were the other Australians to make the cut, Stuart Appleby and John Senden both failing to qualify for the weekend.