Popovic holds on for 4-stroke Australian PGA win



DENNIS PASSA | AP

Published — Sunday 16 December 2012

Last update 16 December 2012 4:34 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

COOLUM, Australia: It was a feel-good situation for a guy who’s had precious few this year. And for Daniel Popovic, it lasted for all four rounds of the Australian PGA.
First-year Australasian PGA tour player Popovic, whose father is suffering from incurable bone cancer, completed an improbable wire-to-wire victory at the Palmer Coolum resort, shooting a 3-under-par 69 on Sunday for a four-stroke victory.
The 26-year-old Popovic, ranked outside the top 1,000, nearly quit golf earlier this year when he learned of his father’s terminal illness, solely to be close to him and his family outside Melbourne in Victoria state.
Instead the player who only made seven of 12 cuts in his first year on the Australasian tour collected $225,000 on Sunday — more than $200,000 above his previous tour earnings.
Fellow Australian Rod Pampling birdied the first six holes to take the lead after nine holes, but bogeys on 16 and 17 and a double-bogey on the 18th dropped him back into a tie for second after a 69. Anthony Brown shot 71 to finish level with Pampling.
Popovic finished with a 16-under-par total of 272 and led or had a share of the lead since Thursday.
“I just can’t believe this is happening,” Popovic said as he walked up the 18th fairway with his ball safely on the green. “I am just going to try to enjoy this now.”
Moments later, he tapped in for par, did a left-handed fist pump and doffed his cap to the crowd.
“It has just hit me all over suddenly,” he said after accepting the winner’s check. “I was just so confident, and that never left me. Sure I made several stupid mistakes, but I bounced back quite nicely.”
Popovic, who will now have an invitation to the US PGA Tour’s Bridgestone Invitational, received a phone call from Greg Norman after his media conference. Norman stayed around to watch some of Popovic’s round on Friday despite pulling out of the tournament after two holes on Thursday with food poisoning.
“2013 is going to be completely different to what I had planned,” Popovic said. “Two weeks ago I entered Q School for next year for Australia and was thinking I would just play one tour because of my father’s illness. But now next year is just going to be bigger and better and hopefully he keeps pushing on as well.”
Pampling looked set for his first win since the Australian Masters in 2008 — he has two wins on the US PGA tour, the last in 2006 at the Bay Hill Invitational. This year, he finished just outside the top 125 — 127th place — to lose his PGA tour card, then failed at qualifying school two weeks ago, meaning he will have only conditional status next year in the US
But errant tee shots on 16 and 17 led to bogeys, then his approach to 18 went into the water, all but handing the win to Popovic.
“Disappointing, obviously it’s been a long time since I have been in this situation,” Pampling said, adding that he was impressed with Popovic’s performance under pressure.
“You couldn’t look back in the form guide and say that he is good under the gun ... you certainly expected Danny to maybe fall back,” Pampling said. “From off the tee he was phenomenal.”
Geoff Ogilvy, trying to be among the top three here to ensure he’d finish inside the top 50 in year-end world rankings thereby get a US Masters berth next year, almost got there. He shot 69 Sunday and finished tied for fourth, just one stroke away.
Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland finished with a 68 for a 4-under total of 279 and tied for eighth, his best finish at any tournament since winning the British Open in 2011.
Peter Senior, who came from behind to win the wind-swept Australian Open on the final day last Sunday at The Lakes in Sydney, couldn’t repeat the feat at Coolum. Playing in the final threesome of the day and trailing Popovic by three to start the round, Senior shot a 77 and finished 11 strokes behind.
Rory Sabbatini shot 74 Sunday and finished tied for 48th at even-par 288.
It seems the Australian PGA may not be moving from the Palmer Coolum resort after 11 years. The PGA of Australia said Sunday it will consider a revised offer from the owner of the Palmer Coolum Resort to keep the event on the Sunshine Coast north of Brisbane.
After wrangling with resort owner and billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer over signage and other sponsorship issues, the PGA of Australia chief executive Brian Thorburn said this week that the tournament would shift next year to another course in Queensland state.
But Thorburn said on Sunday that the board of directors would next week consider a new offer from Palmer that could see the event remain at the player-favorite resort, which has an eight-meter (26-foot) robotic dinosaur outside the clubhouse.
Palmer wants to add more than 100 other replica dinosaurs to the resort and create a theme park.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has announced new legislation for the Dec. 12 elections, including fines and imprisonment for failure to disclose candidate financing, obstructing procedures or officials, and fraudulent activity.Vi...
JEDDAH: The low turnout of Saudis registering for the municipal elections is likely caused by the poor performance of previous councils, lack of a voting culture, inadequate understanding of the duties of councils, and the timing of the elections wit...
JEDDAH: The Foundation of Pilgrim Guides for Non-Arab African Countries plans to create 5,000 seasonal jobs during this year’s Haj, said Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar on Tuesday. Hajjar said the foundation adopted an operational plan to provide quali...
JEDDAH: Qassim Gov. Prince Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud held talks with Indian diplomats on strengthening bilateral ties between the two nations.“The foundation of Saudi-Indian ties is very strong,” said Indian Charge d’Affaires Hemant Kotalwar during...
JEDDAH: The extreme heat and business hours of the Kingdom leave very little time for residents to enjoy leisurely activities away from home. The only convenient time that remains is the evening, a time when cool breezes sweep through Jeddah and the...
DAMMAM: The glistening sea, unique islands, majestic mountains and vast plains make Jazan a diverse and memorable place to visit. Additionally, its forests, lakes, and waterfalls offer picturesque places for visitors to relax and enjoy nature. On the...

Stay Connected

Facebook