Daniel Popovic wins Australian PGA

Australasian Tour rookie Daniel Popovic completed an improbable

wire-to-wire victory in the Australian PGA, shooting a 3-under 69

on Sunday for a four-stroke victory.

Popovic finished at 16-under 272 at the Palmer Coolum resort.

The Australian opened with rounds of 64, 70 and 69.

Rod Pampling birdied the first six holes to take the lead after

nine holes, but dropped four strokes on the final three holes –

making bogeys on 16 and 17 and a double bogey on 18 – to fall into

a tie for second with fellow Australian Anthony Brown. Pampling had

a 69, and Brown shot 71.

Popovic nearly quit golf earlier this year to care for his

seriously ill father.

”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 for $225,000. ”I was just so

confident, and that never left me. Sure I made several stupid

mistakes, but I bounced back quite nicely.”

Pampling looked set for his first win since the Australian

Masters in 2008. He has two wins on the U.S. 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 U.S.

Errant tee shots on 16 and 17 led to bogeys, then his approach

on 18 went into the water.

Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy fell short in his bid to finish in the

top three to ensure a top-50 finish in the year-end world ranking

and a spot in the Masters. He shot a 69 to tie for fourth.