Sunday, 04 December 2016
Day 4 Highlights - Australian PGA Championship

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Harold Varner III put last season's play-off heartbreak behind him to card a closing 65 and win his first European Tour title at the Australian PGA Championship.

The American entered the final round 12 months ago in a share of the lead but a closing 75 in testing conditions saw him finish level par and lose out on the first play-off hole to Nathan Holman.

This time around at RACV Royal Pines Resort he teed off two shots behind long-time leader Andrew Dodt and after the two went toe-to-toe in a thrilling battle down the stretch, his second 65 of the week saw him win by two shots at 19 under.

Varner's victory makes him the first non-Australian to lift the trophy since New Zealander Greg Turner in 1999 and moves him to the top of the fledgling Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex as the first victor of the 2017 season.

Australian Dodt signed for a bogey-free 69 to sit at 17 under, two shots clear of countryman and 2013 champion Adam Scott.

Ashley Hall was then at 14 under, four shots ahead of another Australian in Brett Rumford.

"That was pretty awesome, I had a lot of fun out there today," said Varner.

"I’ve thought a lot about losing the play-off here last year, it was the closest I came to winning last season so it’s been playing on my mind a little bit.

"I’m now a much better, more mature player than I was 12 months ago and this win is big for me. Winning is hard, I don’t care where you tee it up, so to get it done feels great."

Varner put a stunning approach to two feet on the third to cut the lead to one shot and it was not long before he had a share of top spot.

Winning is hard, I don’t care where you tee it up, so to get it done feels great - Harold Varner III

He put his approach to 15 feet on the seventh and while Dodt managed to get inside him, it was Varner who made the birdie putt.

Both the leaders laid up on the short par four eighth but Varner's second was inside a foot and we had a new leader.

Varner got in trouble off the tee on the ninth but needed just one putt for a third birdie in a row, although his lead stayed at one as Dodt got on in two and birdied the hole for the fourth time after missing an eight-foot eagle putt.

Dodt and Varner then both birdied the tenth but when the leader bogeyed the next, there was a tie at the top once again.

Varner bounced straight back as he took advantage of the par five 12th and when he put his approach to the 13th to tap-in range, the lead was up to two.

That would not last for long, though, as Varner missed a short putt on the 14th to drop a shot and with Dodt holing from 40 feet, things were level again at 17 under.

At that point Scott was four shots back at three under par for the day but he holed from similar range for eagle on the 15th to stay in the mix with three to play.

A Varner birdie on the same hole moved him back ahead and when Scott saw a birdie putt lip out on the 16th, his chance looked to have gone.

Another gain on the 17th then handed Varner a two-shot advantage he would not relinquish up the last.

Australian amateur Brett Coletta finished in the group at eight under alongside countryman John Senden and Darius van Driel of the Netherlands.

Challenge Tour graduate Ryan Fox was then at seven under, a shot ahead of Stephen Gallacher, Scott Hend, Romain Langasque, Tom Lewis and Prom Meesawat.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1VARNER III, HaroldUSA18-19
2DODT, AndrewAUS18-17
3SCOTT, AdamAUS18-15
4HALL, AshleyAUS18-14
5RUMFORD, BrettAUS18-10
T6VAN DRIEL, DariusNED18-8

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