AMERICAN golfer Harold Varner III spoiled the Aussie party at the 2016 Australian PGA Championship but fully deserved his two shot victory in what was his first ever professional win.
The 26 year old had a breakthrough year on the Web.com Tour in the US, finishing 25th and earning his US PGA TOUR card for the 2016/17 season, the first African American to do so.
He continued the momentum at the RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast and will now go into the new year bubbling with enthusiasm for the challenge ahead.
Varnier showed his potential at Royal Pines last year when he went into the final round sharing the lead but in testing conditions hit a closing 75, finishing on even par, then lost out on the first play-off hole to Nathan Holman.
On Sunday he teed off two shots behind tournament leader and local favourite Andrew Dodt and in an often tense final round battle fired his second 7-under 65 of the week saw to win on 19 under par.
Varner’s victory makes him the first non-Australian to lift the trophy since New Zealander Greg Turner in 1999 and the first American since Hale Irwin.
“I’m just super excited. After last year, it feels good to come back and finish it off,” said Varner, who turned professional in 2012.
“It’s been a blast for me, between the volunteers, the people, I can’t wait to come back.
“Yesterday when I got on the first tee and they said Adam Scott. Well, actually, they went over all accolades, former number one, Masters Champion, I was like, well I’d pull for that guy too.
“Today when, Andrew made the putt on the 14th, par-3. That’s when I knew he was Australian.
“I just wanted to find a way to birdie every hole, because that’s the only thing I can control. I can’t control what Andrew does, I can’t control what Adam does. The only think I can control is Harold. That’s what I’ve learned over the time.”
Dodt closed with a bogey-free 3-under 69 to finish runner up on 17 under, two shots clear of countryman and 2013 champion Adam Scott (67).
Fellow Aussie Ashley Hall (70) was outright fourth on 14 under, with European Tour regular Brett Rumford (67) fifth at 10-under.
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