COOLUM, Australia (AP) — 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."