Australian PGA Championship, Popovic Prevails.

Daniel Popovic / pga.org,au

Daniel Popovic prevailed at the Australian PGA Championship on Sunday at the Palmer Coolum Resort golf course, to win by four shots after beginning the last round with a two shot advantage. Daniel  kept his emotions in check to par the last hole for a closing 69 to finish the tournament at 16-under par and claim his first professional victory. A delighted Daniel said;

“I can’t believe this has happened. I really just can’t believe it”

Anthony Brown finished in a tie for second on -12 under par along with Rod Pampling. Tied in fourth place was Geoff Ogilvy and Brad Kennedy at -11 under par. Big talking Peter Senior failed to match his arrogant rhetoric before the final round, falling to a +5 over par round of 77. No big winds to give him an advantage this week, with his broomstick putter. That should give the R&A and the U.S.G.A  something to ponder over before announcing their anchoring decision.

Congratulations to Daniel, I hope this win will be the first of many more.

Australian PGA Championship, Daniel Popovic has 2 point lead for Final Round

Daniel Popovic

Daniel Popovic / pga.au

Young gun Daniel Popovic has a two point lead going into Sunday’s final round of the Australian PGA Championship at the Palmer Coolum Resort golf course. Daniel carded a -3 under par 69,  for tournament total of -13 under par, in calm conditions on Saturday to lead fellow Victorian Anthony Brown by two shots, and is confident he’s got the game to hold off an experienced chasing pack and claim his first Australian PGA Championship.

” I knew that I had it in me and I still know that I have one more good round tomorrow in me. I’ve just got to keep my routine going , what I have been doing has been working this week and tonight is going to be exactly the same and so is tomorrow morning in my warm up. I’ve been in pressure situations before, like say Q-School which is for me almost the most pressure that you have for the year because it determines where and how many tournaments you are going to play. It does surprise me in a way that I did handle it so well today without sort of having my A-game, but I am going to walk away from here thinking this can be done tomorrow and I’m going to give it a fair crack. It’s going to be an incredible ride for the whole family I think, tomorrow for myself, my mum and my dad is going to be huge.”

Daniel said he was excited to playing alongside another Australian legend on Sunday,Peter Senior,after playing with Geoff Ogilvey on moving day.  In the final group will be Anthony Brown who is two shots back at -11 under par and Peter is three shots behind at -10 under par;

“It’s fantastic, I mean Pete Senior is another one with so much experience and watching Geoff the way that he went about things today, I learnt so much again today playing with him. Geoff is such a great guy and I really hope that I get to play with Geoff again but Pete Senior, I have never met him in my life and I am sure that he is about the same sort of bloke as what Geoff is,  I can’t wait.”

Daniel may be excited but Peter Senior has issued a warning to the leader as he chases a fourth  Australian PGA Championship, declaring he’s in better form than when he won last week’s Australian Open.

” Pretty happy with the way things are going, I played a lot better today than I had even last week. I hit a lot better quality shots, driving it really well and I was just hitting it and picking up my tee which is always a great feeling, it sort of sets the holes up a little bit. I hit some better iron shots today that felt better than what I have been doing and made some birdies on some good holes, like 14 and 18 today, those were the real bonus holes. I just haven’t been making birdies on the par-fives, there are 15 par-fives and I think I’m about three under, the longer hitters are sort of knocking them to pieces so the par-fives are really letting me down.”

Australian PGA Championship, Daniel Popovic and China’s Xin Jun Zhang are Tied at the Top

 

 

Daniel Popovic        Zhang joins Popovic in share of lead

Daniel Popovic / Getty Images                                                                                Xin Jun Zhang

Daniel Popovic and China’s Xin Jun Zhang are tied top of the Australian PGA Championship after the second round at the Palmer Coolum Resort golf  club. Both players are at -10 under par for the tournament, Daniel with a modest -2 under par 70, and Xin Jun fired in another round of -5 under par 67 for his total.

Daniel said he was stoked to be still at t he top of the leaderboard;

” I am stoked, “I can’t get the smile off my face since I finished the round. It’s an unbelievable experience. I am lost for words explaining it.”

Zhang used an interpreter to speak about his golf;

“I felt good today, I am getting used to this layout and to the wind. I’ve learned some English, mostly related to golf, like ‘how do you think this breaks’?”

Matthew Griffen and Geoff Ogilvey are tied in third place at -8 under par, just two shots adrift of the leaders. Tied in fifth spot are Brad Kennedy and Mathew Goggin, both at -7 under par for the tournament.

Geoff Ogilvey,  the 2006 US Open winner and 2008 Australian PGA champion, said he thought his experience of being in contention heading into the weekend should put him in a good position to attack.

“It helps. Being on the first tee can be a scary place the first few times you are there on the weekend, there is a no substitute for experience. It’s a nice advantage to have but there are a lot of good golfers in this field playing well and there is still a long way to go.”

Geoff really wants to finish the year inside the top 50 in the World rankings, so he is aiming to win here;

“I don’t know if it has to be first to get into the top 50, but it probably has to be first two or three, I don’t study world rankings that much. But that would be a bonus, winning the tournament would be the best part, but if that was a side bonus that would be good. I feel like I am in a good place. It’s nice I will be in one of the last few groups tomorrow and if I can have a good score, maybe get right up there after tomorrow and give it a crack on Sunday.”

 

Australian PGA Championship, Young Gun Daniel Popovic Leads

Family heartache driving Popovic

Daniel Popovic

Young Gun Daniel Popovic leads the Australian PGA Championship after the opening round  at the Palmer Coolum Resort course, with a blistering first round of -8 under par 64. Daniel leads by two strokes from Scott Strange who finished with -6 under par 66. Daniel earned his playing privileges by winning the 2012 PGA of Australasia qualifying school, and is playing with his father in mind. Radi, Daniel’s father who introduced Daniel to golf, was diagnosed with leukaemia earlier this year, but has insisted his son play in this event. Daniel spoke of his father’s condition;

” My father found out that he has cancer earlier on in the year and it really shook me around a lot and it still sort of does when I think about it. But I find a lot of strength in him with how he’s fighting that and how he really wants me to push forward with my golf and find happiness through him. It’s called multiple myeloma, it’s leukaemia in his bones and it’s one that’s unable to cure. It is a slow growing cancer. I mean you’re unsure of when the actual day will come but he is a strong man and a very stubborn man so I think he’ll be here for a little while longer.”

Daniel was very proud of his round today anf thinks his parents will be too;

“My mum and dad will be over the moon. My dad will be in tears and so will my mum. They are very sensitive people, my mum would have been balling her eyes out all day. “I want to think of tomorrow as a new day, I want to go out there and play every shot on its merit … and I think if I hit it as good as I have done in the last two months it’s going to be pretty hard for me to shoot a bad score. I’m standing over it this week thinking they’re all going in. I’ve never felt this confident over a putter in my life.”

A practice round with Geoff Ogilvy on Tuesday has proved to be invaluable, a phone call from a friend set up the game;

“I played with him on Tuesday, my good friend Ryan Lynch, his father, Dale, coaches Geoff , and he called me up on Monday night and he said ‘hey mate I’m going to be playing with Geoff tomorrow morning, do you want to come on down?’  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity and I came here super early at quarter-to-six in the morning and played 18 holes with him and it was one of the best experiences of my life. He was so nice and so down to earth and gave me so much advice , it was like I’d known him for five years.”

I wonder if Geoff is thinking he may have given out too much good advice to Daniel, now that he is playing catch up in the second round of this tournament. Geoff  is tied in third place, three shots adrift of the leader,  after he and  Zhang Xin Jun from China, and Tze-huang Choo  from Singapore had opening rounds of -5 under par 67.

Dramatically,  Greg  Norman was forced to withdraw from the tournament after just two holes due to illness. He started his round  at the 10th hole at 7.00 a.m.  local time, Greg battled to consecutive bogeys before shaking hands with playing partners Stuart Appleby and Jake Higginbottom on the 11th green.

PGA of Australia CEO Brian Thorburn said;

“Greg Norman has been diagnosed with food poisoning and has been attended to by Dr. Barry Whelan at Mt. Coolum Medical Centre, who spent the morning with him and treated Greg’s symptoms with appropriate medication. Dr. Whelan expects Greg to make a full recovery and has advised Greg to rest in his room in the meantime. While we’re obviously disappointed for the fans who love to see Greg play in Australia, we wish Greg a speedy recovery.”

Get well soon Greg