New Zealand's contingent were predictably among the back markers as unheralded Australian Daniel Popovic celebrated an emotional victory at the Australian PGA Championship on Queensland's Sunshine Coast today.
The 26 year-old led the $A1.25 million tournament at Coolum from the outset and withstood a late charge from compatriot Rod Pampling before winning comfortably by four strokes - the perfect Christmas present for his father Radi, who is battling bone cancer.
Popovic, who entered the season-ending tournament as the 1251st ranked golfer in the world, held his nerve after a double bogey on the eighth to claim the $A225,000 winner's cheque.
He finished with a three-under 69 to end 16-under par; Anthony Brown and Pampling tied for second after rounds of 71 and 69 respectively.
Josh Geary maintained his standing as the best performed New Zealander after another fluctuating round.
Geary mirrored his third round by again starting on a roll to be four-under after six -thanks to an eagle on the fifth and two birdies -but disintegrated from then on.
The 28 year-old bogeyed a half dozen of the next eight holes after beating par on the sixth, a double bogey on the last summed up his demise before he signed for a 75 to end in a share of 32nd with a four round three-under total of 285.
Nick Gillespie, the last of five Kiwis to make the cut, started on the back nine and birdied five of the first six holes - enough to produce today's the best round by a New Zealander, a three-under 69.
His only sub-par round of the tournament left him a shot behind Geary and alongside Michael Hendry who effectively conceded the PGA Tour of Australasia's Order of Merit to Peter Senior on Friday.
Hendry carded an even-par 72 to finish in a logjam in 35th at two-under - he needed Senior to implode yesterday but although the Australian veteran tumbled from a tie for third to 27th, his five-over 77 still left him three shots clear of the Aucklander.
Brad Shilton wound up with an even par round, his opening 76 the only blemish on an otherwise solid effort that position him at one-under in a tie for 43rd.
Mark Brown was a picture of consistency until his final circuit, a four-over 76 consigned him to finish even with the card on 288 in 48th.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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