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Little-known PGA winner over the moon

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Little-known Victorian Nathan Holman is set to realise a childhood dream at the British Open next year after a stunning Australian PGA Championship victory on Sunday – not that he realised it at the time.

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Holman claimed the Kirkwood Cup at the Royal Pines resort on Sunday, edging fellow up-and-comers Harold Varner III from the US and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli in a nailbiting playoff, the second time the tournament has been decided beyond regulation play in as many years.

But unlike last year’s marathon seven-hole playoff between Greg Chalmers, Adam Scott and Wade Ormsby, only one was needed, with the 24-year-old holding his nerve as Varner and Frittelli both bogeyed on the tough par-4 18th to secure his first win as a professional.

It brings him full European Tour status for two years courtesy of a new co-sanctioning agreement reached this year, but it wasn’t until the presentations that he realised the trophy came with added bonuses.

The $331,578.95 in prizemoney he pockets means he will win the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit, which gets him starts in the British Open and the World Golf Championships.

“It’s huge. I didn’t realise what was on the line, really,” said Holman, who began the day two strokes off the pace.

“It’s probably a good thing, to be honest.

“I did think I’d get to those events in the future.

“I didn’t think it would be this quickly.

“To do it off the back of a victory is probably going to be better – I’ve deserved it. It’s stuff you dream of playing golf as a kid.”

Holman, Varner and Frittelli all finished on even par for the tournament – indicative of the windy conditions on all four days, the uncompromising nature of the remodelled back nine and, perhaps, the lack of top-line quality in the field.

The unheralded trio took advantage of the few drawcards who were there, including top-ranked American Brandt Snedeker, who missed the cut.

Varner, one of few African-Americans in professional golf, only narrowly missed a nine-foot putt at the last, which would have seen him claim victory.

Holman looked poised to win it much earlier until nerves set in and he coughed up back-to-back bogeys on the final two holes – the only blemishes on his card aside from a double-bogey on the first, which he said actually worked in his favour at the start of the day.

“That kind of really settled me down,” he said.

“Instead of being real edgy again I was back behind the eight ball. It puts the pressure off you, no-one’s really thinking of you.”

Zander Lombard, the 20-year-old former South African amateur whiz who was tied for the overnight lead with Varner and Frittelli, finished fourth after a four-over-par 76.

Australian young gun Cameron Smith (73) made a strong push and at one stage shared the lead with Varner, but came undone with three bogeys on his inward nine.

AAP

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