Jarryd Felton has used a run of five straight birdies and survived a late scare from veteran Brett Rumford to claim the 2020 TX Civil & Logistics WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie Golf Course and bury the demons of 12 months ago.
Starting the day one shot back of Rumford and Braden Becker, Felton fired an equal course record of 8-under 64 in calmer conditions in the WA desert to claim the 54-hole ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia championship by one shot from Rumford with Daniel Fox third a further five shots adrift.
Birdies at the first and third holes gave Rumford the ideal start to the final round but a double-bogey due to an errant tee shot that went out of bounds at the par-4 ninth – combined with Felton’s hot streak – turned the tournament on its head.
A birdie at 10 gave Felton a two-shot cushion and when he added four more on top of it over the next four holes he had raced away to a five-shot lead and a seemingly insurmountable advantage.
But you don’t win six times on the European Tour without plenty of tenacity and Rumford refused to yield, a chip-in eagle at the last momentarily giving Felton heart palpitations but ultimately one shot shy of forcing a playoff.
Runner-up 12 months ago, Felton saw the 2019 championship slip from his grasp when he dropped shots at 12 and 13 in the final round and recognised the significance of making birdie at both holes to charge further ahead.
“I holed a nice putt on 12 and for anyone who can remember that’s where the disaster started last year,” Felton said.
“I bogeyed 12 and 13 and Darren (Beck) went birdie-birdie. I went birdie-birdie this year to open up my round and really push for the win.
“I holed those two putts and I walked to the next tee thinking that maybe someone was looking after me this year.
“The brain does funny things. It made me remember real quickly about what happened there 12 months ago that’s for sure.”
After a two-putt birdie from 18 feet at the par-5 11th, Felton made putts from 25 and 20 feet respectively at 12 and 13, the flatstick finally catching up to a week of exemplary ball-striking.
“I’ve been playing great all week but I putted horrifically the first two days,” said Felton, who has never finished worse than 10th in seven starts at Kalgoorlie.
“I was 5-under but I honestly think I missed two greens for 36 holes so I struck it unbelievably good.
“I gave myself chances on pretty much every hole and just couldn’t get anything to go.
“It was all to play for today.
“I’ve led here for a lot of the time so it was good to come from behind and put the pressure on the leaders.”
Winner at Kalgoorlie in 2015, Rumford expected his early birdies might be enough to see off the chasing pack and refused to surrender even under the weight of Felton’s charge.
The 44-year-old made up two shots with birdies at 11 and 12 but indecision on the tee of the par-3 13th proved costly.
“I didn’t do too much wrong, Jarryd just outplayed me straight up,” said Rumford, who left his 7-iron into 13 short and right of the green and was unable to get up-and-down for par, coming home in 31 for a final round of 6-under 66.
“I decided to watch the scoreboards today, I was just curious to see how everyone was going.
“I was 9-under, had a one-shot lead after eight and then nine I hit it out of the bounds and made double.
“By the time I got halfway down 10 I was three shots behind so it was very, very quick.
“From that point I just kept pushing. I refused for it to be over. I kept pushing but I was in between clubs on the par-3. That was the only bad swing and it cost me the golf tournament.
“With 10 holes to play you can make a mistake but when there’s six holes to play you can’t.
“At that point I’m miles behind but just refused to give in.”
It was a quick change of fortune too for Fox who picked up four shots in three holes around the turn to push up into outright third position.
“It’s one of those courses that you just don’t want to be under the pump early,” said Fox after bogeys at one and three put him on the back foot.
“It’s a tough golf course to get on the right side of but I made a nice long putt from 30 feet on nine and that just gave me a kick-along.
“I hit it close at the next and then made another long putt for eagle at 11. All of a sudden you’re four shots better off in three holes.
“I don’t feel like I did a whole lot differently, just got on the right side of a couple of putts.”
Much of the field now moves on to Royal Fremantle Golf Club next week for the Nexus Risk WA Open which will also be conducted over 54 holes from Friday October 16 to Sunday October 18.
203: Jarryd Felton
204: Brett Rumford
209: Daniel Fox
210: Braden Becker
211: Daniel Hoeve
212: Connor Fewkes (a), Scott Strange, Hayden Hopewell (a)