BRETT RUMFORD has continued the roll for Aussie golf, eagling the first playoff hole to win the 2013 Ballantine’s Championship in South Korea.
It was the 35 year old’s fourth European Tour victory and first since 2007.
Rumford (68) started the day two strokes off the lead at the joint Asian Tour sanctioned event and rallied to be standing on the 17th tee with a two stroke lead.
Unfortunately, he put his next two drives into trouble, with a double bogey on the 17th and a clutch par save on the last seeing him finish even with compatriot Marcus Fraser (68) and Scotland’s Peter Whiteford (69) on 11-under at the end of regulation.
The trio replayed the par-five 18th but a magnificent second shot approach by Rumford left him just a four foot putt for eagle.
“It was an absolute rollercoaster ride of emotions out there this afternoon, obviously my last five holes yesterday and front nine today got me in a great position to take this tournament,” Rumford said.
Rumford finished his third round with five consecutive birdies at the Blackstone Golf Club and then raced to the turn in the final round in just 30.
He revealed later he wasn’t comfortable with his driver on the back and the last two errant shots were a consequence of that. He made a quick call to coach Pete Cowen and hit a couple of drives before teeing off in the playoff. His drive on the 18th was much better but it was the approach shot that was the clincher.
“A lot of thanks go to Pete,” said Rumford. “I battled with my driver constantly and I guess that’s what keeps me out of most golf tournaments.
“I left a few drives right – it wasn’t just the last two drives, it was the whole back nine I was feeling stuck and a little bit trapped – had a quick word with Pete and hit a five or six balls off the first tee and it obviously did the trick.”
Rumford acknowledged the inspiration all Aussie golfers had received following Adam Scott’s historic Masters victory but was very emotional in delivering some special thanks.
“It was mixed emotions coming home and I’m really lost for words at the moment but there are a lot of people I need to thank – starting with my wife Sally,” said Rumford, after delivering a perfect day early birthday gift of the €367,500 winner’s cheque to the family.
“It’s been pretty hard golf-wise and raising twins is not easy; she’s an amazing lady and she’s a great support to me and that’s why I’m standing here today.
“I’m really pleased with the result and I owe a lot to Ronnie my caddy and I’ve got a great team around me.”
Fraser, who was bidding to win his second Ballantine’s Championship following his victory in 2010, was disappointed but full of praise for Rumford.
“I played very well this week and came up a little bit short. I got beaten by some pretty good golf today. That shot into the playoff hole was pretty impressive. He (Rumford) would easily agree it’s one of the best shots he’s ever hit to, so full credit to him,” Fraser said.
“I played the play-off hole really well. Hit the second shot a little bit left and hit a great chip to about a foot. But that wasn’t good enough and that’s the way it is, that’s golf and we are big boys, we’ll get over it I’m sure,” he said.
France’s Romain Wattel finished fourth on nine under par, with World Number Seven Louis Oosthuizen a shot further back. Overnight leader Alex Noren suffered a penalty shot at the second when his ball moved a fraction as he addressed his par putt, eventually carding a 74 to finish in a tie for sixth.2013 Ballantine’s Championship Final Leaderboard