UNHERALDED 26-year-old Victorian rookie Daniel Popovic has continued the fairytale to take the 2012 Australian PGA Championship by four strokes.
In far and away the biggest occasion of his short professional career, Popovic showed calm and composure throughout the final day at the Palmer Coolum Resort to finish with a 69 and a tournament total of 16-under 272.
“Unbelievable, just unbelievable, there are no words to explain how good it sounds,” said Popovic of his name joining the long list of champions on the Joe Kirkwood Cup that include Player, Nagle, Thomson and Norman.
Popovic led the Championship from wire-to-wire and impressed himself with the mental resolve he displayed throughout the final round.
“I knew if I had that same mentality of what I had every single day leading into every round this week I was going to be fine, which I did and I turned up today and I was more confident than any of the other days,” he said.
Drew inspiration from father’s cancer battle
Drawing inspiration from his father’s battle with cancer, Popovic said he now can’t wait to return home to Melbourne and his family.
“That is the difference because of my father, that is the difference as to why I am so confident and do back myself and do push myself so hard on the golf course now.”
“For him it’s going to be a relief and he said he is so proud of me and so is my mum, they have all their friends over there, he is going to be over the moon and I cannot wait to give him a big bear hug. We are going to have a pretty big party I think when we get back.”
Popovic’s cool remained even when seasoned professional Rod Pampling (69) issued a big challenge when he jumped out of the gates with six successive birdies in his opening holes.
“That was very impressive from Rod Pampling, very impressive; I impressed myself a bit there actually keeping up with him in a way,” Popvic said.
Pampling drew level mid round and then took a one stroke lead but the charge faltered and ended when he dropped four shots in his closing three holes. The Queenslander finished tied with Victorian Anthony Brown (71) at 12-under 276.
Geoff Ogilcy (69) and Brad Kennedy (70) were tied fourth on 11-under.
With his win Popovic will earn a start at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational ensuring 2013 is a far cry different from what Popovic had originally planned.
“Two weeks ago I entered Q School for next year for Australia and was thinking I would just play one tour because of my fathers’ illness, but now next year is just going to be bigger and better and hopefully he keeps pushing on as well.”
“I take away that I am not far off where you need to be in the world, my goal with golf is to win a Major championship and I don’t feel it is that far off. I mean mentally I am there, I do feel that; there are a couple of things with my game that I do need to improve on.”
While disappointed with his finish, Rod Pampling said his two top-10 finishes in as many weeks provides him with confidence for the 2013 PGA TOUR season where he has conditional status.
“Obviously you come down to win in Australia, it’s a great spot to get the confidence back. Second – as much as it hurts after being one ahead, it’s still nice to build on that and definitely get some confidence for next year,” said Pampling.
Senior wins Order of Merit
Peter Senior’s dream run also ended with the 53 year old faltering with a double bogey on the 4th followed by a bogey on the 5th. There were four more bogeys only countered by an eagle on the par five 12th.2012 Australian PGA Championship Final Leaderboard