Aussie legends Rod Pampling and Stephen Leaney look set to push for greater senior honours in 2020 after the pair both finished inside the top 10 at the inaugural Morocco Champions event on the Champions Tour.
With 10 ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia wins between them, Pampling and Leaney have both joined the over-50s circuit in the past 12 months and will this year be vying to become the first Australian winner of a senior major since Stewart Ginn at the Senior Players Championship in 2002.
Runner-up five times in 408 PGA TOUR starts, Brett Quigley completed an emotional victory in just his second Champions Tour start, finishing six shots clear of Pampling in a tie for eighth with Leaney a further shot back in a tie for 10th.
Pampling began the final round four shots adrift of 36-hole leader Stephen Ames and after the third birdie in the space of four holes at the par-5 12th was within striking distance of the top of the leaderboard.
But as the tournament reached its climax Pampling faltered, dropping shots at 13, 15 and 18 to fall back to 9-under par and a tie for eighth.
Beginning the final round in a tie for 12th, Leaney’s three birdies and two bogeys saw him turn in 1-under, a lone birdie at 12 resulting in a move of two spots up the leaderboard.
With the enormity of his win in Dubai still sinking in Victorian Lucas Herbert showed terrific composure to be the leading Australian at the Saudi International in Saudi Arabia, a final round of 2-under 68 launching him 20 spots up the leaderboard and into a tie for 27th.
Hitting 83 per cent of greens in regulation in the fourth round, Herbert finished level at 2-under for the week along with Kiwi Ryan Fox. Fox opened the week with a 4-under 66 to be two shots off the lead before falling back into the pack with a 5-over 75 in the second round, his Sunday 68 helping to push him up into the top 30.
As Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell rounded out the 11th European Tour win of his career, perhaps the most impressive performance among the Aussies came from Maverick Antcliff, who made the cut and finished tied for 52nd after only finding out on Wednesday morning that he was in the field.
Antcliff was in America and ninth reserve on Saturday but made the decision to fly to Saudi Arabia on Sunday morning when he woke up as first alternate.
The Queenslander prepared without any guarantees of getting a game, finally getting word at 9.30 on Wednesday morning that he would be teeing it up alongside Martin Kaymer and Mike Lorenzo-Vera the next day.
Samanah GC, Marrakech, Morocco
T8 Rod Pampling 68-68-71—207 $US60,000
T10 Stephen Leaney 70-68-70—208 $48,000
36 David McKenzie 71-73-70—214 $12,000
Royal Greens G&CC, King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia
T27 Ryan Fox 66-75-69-68—278 €26,534
T27 Lucas Herbert 67-71-72-68—278 €26,534
T52 Maverick Antcliff 70-69-72-70—281 €12,068
MC Scott Hend 68-74—142
MC Min Woo Lee 74-68—142
MC David Micheluzzi 72-73—145
MC Wade Ormsby 76-73—149
Euphoria GC, Modimolle, South Africa
MC Deyen Lawson 73-78—151