Melbourne’s Caleb Bovalina has cashed a winner’s cheque in his first start on the adidas PGA Pro-Am Series, edging out Jak Carter at the first playoff hole at the Murray Bridge Pro-Am.
One back of Carter and PNG Open champion Lachlan Barker at the start of the second round at Murray Bridge Golf Club, Bovalina needed to produce something special to force the tournament to extra holes.
After back-to-back bogeys at 12 and 13, Bovalina got back to within one with a birdie at the par-3 14th but took until the final hole to draw level, draining a lengthy birdie putt on 18 for a round of 1-under 67 to tie Carter at 1-under for 36 holes.
His flatstick again came to the fore at the first extra hole, sealing a maiden pro-am victory with yet another birdie on 18.
Hailing originally from Cobram on the Murray River but now based out of Commonwealth Golf Club, Bovalina was somewhat stunned to have won in his very first attempt.
“I’ve had a pretty cool week. First time here and played some solid golf,” said Bovalina, the first player to win a pro-am on debut since Lawry Flynn at Maroochy River Golf Club in 2021.
“I had my ups and downs – I made a couple of silly bogeys this afternoon – but a nice putt on 18 to get into the playoff and then a nice one to win.
“I only turned pro four months ago at Q School and this is actually the first pro-am that I’ve played.
“This will always sit pretty high up.”
Bovalina turned professional after obtaining status on the PGA Tour of Australasia at Q School at Moonah Links in April.
He teed it up at the recent DP World Tour First Stage of Qualifying School at Rosebud Country Club and felt right at home at Murray Bridge.
“I love playing country tracks. It tends to suit me quite well,” he added.
“I tend to hit it quite straight so I knew that would be at a premium this week.
“The greens were fantastic. I’m used to playing on fast greens so touch was vital around here.”
Bovalina will next head to Western Australia in the first week of October to attempt to pre-qualify for the WA Open and has entered the WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie.
Close friends Carter (68) and Barker (69) finished second and third respectively with Peter Cooke (68) and Anthony Choat (68) rounding out the top five.