Popovic completes golfing fairy tale at Australian PGA

Popovic completes golfing fairy tale at Australian PGA

COOLUM, Australia - Agence France-Presse
Popovic completes golfing fairy tale at Australian PGA

Daniel Popovic kisses the Kirkwood Cup after winning the Australian PGA. EPA photo

Rookie Australian Daniel Popovic completed a golfing fairy tale yesterday, leading from start to finish to claim the Australian PGA by four shots.

Popovic held his nerve over the closing holes as Rod Pampling imploded with bogeys on 16 and 17 and a double bogey on 18 to drop four shots and surrender the lead after a late charge.

Pampling finished tied for second with another Australian Anthony Brown, one shot clear of former US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy and Brad Kennedy.

The 26-year-old Popovic won the Australian qualifying school last December but took time away from golf after his father was diagnosed with cancer.

But his dad urged him to return to golf during the year and he repaid that faith with a superb performance over the four days, shooting eight under on the opening day and following that with three more sub-par rounds for a dominant victory.

“2013 is going to be completely different to what I had planned two weeks ago,” a delighted Popovic, who is now guaranteed a start in the Bridgestone International on the US PGA tour, said.

“Two weeks ago I entered Q School for Australia again and was thinking I would just play one tour next year because of my father’s illness. But now next year is going to be bigger and better, and hopefully he keeps pushing on as well.”

Popovic looked composed throughout his final round at the Palmer Coolum Resort, defying predictions that he would crack under the pressure.

“I knew if I had the same mentality that I had the other three days that I was going to be fine,” he said. “And I did, I turned up today and was more confident than any of the other days.”