Australian PGA Championship 2016
Round 4 - Harold Varner III wins Australian PGADecember 5, 2016
Harold Varner III didn't really know the protocol, so he filled the Australian PGA Championship trophy with champagne, took a sip and then shared it around.
The 26-year-old American won a title for the first time outside the U.S. mini tours when he fired nine birdies in a closing 65 on Sunday to finish at 19 under, two clear of Australian journeyman Andrew Dodt and four ahead of 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott.
He finished runner-up after a playoff here last year, then had four top-10 finishes in his rookie season on the PGA Tour.
"After last year, it feels good to come back and finish it off," he said. "This is my first win since the mini tours, so this is my first win, I guess, as part of an organization such as the PGA Tour, the European Tour. It's just a step in the right direction and I'm just super excited."
Varner had a hectic week at the event that is co-sanctioned by the Australasian and European tours. After lightning and rain stopped his first round after 14 holes, he had to set the alarm for 2:45 a.m. Friday to get up in time for an early courtesy car ride to his 5:30 a.m. tee off.
He finished his first round in a share of the lead at 7 under, then went out and finished his second round before lunch on day two. His spare time has included black jack at the Casino where he's staying, and where he was headed Sunday night.
This being his first win abroad, Varner admitted he wasn't fully across the routine for a champion that included extra interviews, news conferences and photos opportunities.
"I'm ready to get to the casino but no one told me about the other stuff that goes along with winning - which I'm totally cool with - I just didn't know there was so much stuff. There might have been 1,000 pictures out there," he told the news conference where he filled the trophy with champagne and shared it around. "Winning is cool."
Varner started the last round two shots behind Dodt. He surged into the lead with a run of four birdies at the start of an entertaining span of nine holes that contained seven birdies and two bogeys. He took a two-shot lead into the last hole and tapped in for par.
Dodt held a two-shot lead before the final round but couldn't match it with Varner's nine birdies and closed with a 69. Scott closed with a 67, his best round of the tournament to finish in outright third at 15 under.
Ashley Hall dropped from second to fourth at 14 under after a final round of 70. His fellow Australian Brett Rumford finished at 10 under, two shots ahead of a group of three that included Dutch golfer Darius van Driel, amateur Brett Coletta and John Senden. New Zealander Ryan Fox was ninth at 7 under.
Scott started the last day four shots off the pace but again was wayward off the tee. He kept in touch with three birdies in four holes from the eighth and added an eagle at the par-5 15th.
"It was my best round of the week and it wasn't good enough unfortunately," he said.
The former No. 1-ranked Scott said he planned to put the clubs away for a while and catch up on family time, surfing, and watching some cricket and tennis.
The clubs "will be away for a couple of weeks and if they're not too rusty by Christmas I might bring them back out and shake some of the rust off," he said. "I'll just play around for fun and then I'll get serious once the new year starts."
Varner, who is the only player other than Tiger Woods with black heritage on the PGA Tour, is hoping this win is the launching pad for a better 2017.
He was the first American to win the Australian PGA title since Hale Irwin in 1978 at Royal Melbourne, and the first non-Australian to claim the title since 1999.
"Winning is just ... different," he said. "Three years, I haven't won, so this is special."
Round 3 - Andrew Dodt leads by twoDecember 4, 2016
Andrew Dodt held the lead for the third straight round at the Australian PGA Championship on Saturday, hanging onto a two-stroke cushion after Adam Scott started fast but faded and Harold Varner III scrapped on the front nine and finished strongly.
Dodt had five birdies and three bogeys as he went around in 70 on Saturday, moving to 14 under 202.
A two-time winner on the European Tour, Dodt finds himself on rare ground going into the last round.
"My wins have been from behind, so this is new to me," he said. "I'm really trying to embrace it and enjoy my time out there.
"The first three rounds are irrelevant now. There are a lot of world- class players behind me, so I've got to keep the foot down."
Varner started the day five shots off the pace and narrowed the gap to two, moving into a share of second spot at 12 under with Australian Ashley Hall after carding a 67 that included eagles at the 15th to the 17th and a clutch putt for a bogey at the 18th. Hall had two eagles and twice pulled level for the lead, but bogeys on the last two holes meant he finished with a 70.
Varner, who was a runner-up here last year after losing a three-way playoff, had eight straight pars before a birdie at the 9th. He had another birdie at the par-5 12th and then unleashed a 364-meter drive (which he needed Scott to translate to 400 yards) on the 15th to set up an eagle. He had double-bogey at that same hold - plus the 16th - on Friday, so the big tee shot was a confidence boost.
At the 17th, he holed a wedge from 114 meters and had a mini celebration. On the last, with thunder in the background and lightning in the distance, he hit into a bunker and put his third shot left of the green. So, he said, the putt for bogey "was awesome."
"I hit it left, right and center," he said, explaining the damage limitation. "Good momentum going into tomorrow, I'm super excited .... set up best as I'm going to be without leading."
Former No.1-ranked Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship in 2013, the same year he won the Masters, finished the third round in a share of fourth with John Senden after a 70. Scott had birdies at the 2nd and 8th and an eagle at the 9th to charge up the leaderboard but was wayward off the tee on the back nine, twice finding the water, and mixing three bogeys with another birdie to finish at 10 under.
"I'm going to have to shoot a low score, but there's a low one out there, that's for sure," Scott said of the last round. "I have to go out and have a good front nine and kind of get up near the lead like I did today. If I can do that, then there's a lot of pressure on the other guys who are trying to get maybe their first wins here of a big event."
Ryan Fox slipped off the pace with three bogeys on his first five holes and was seven shots off the pace at 7 under in sixth place.
Round 2 - Adam Scott stays in contentionDecember 3, 2016
Adam Scott put together back-to-back rounds of 68 and feels like he's really back in the swing of things as he heads into the weekend at the Australian PGA Championship four shots off the pace.
Andrew Dodt followed his opening 65 with a 67 on Friday to hold the halfway lead at 12 under, two shots ahead of fellow Australian Ashley Hall and four clear of Scott and New Zealander Ryan Fox, who share third place.
Harold Varner III had a long, eventful morning before finishing before lunch at 7 under - good enough to hold up for outright fifth after two rounds. He was up 2:45 a.m., finished his first round in a share of the lead after a 65, and took the lead early in the second round before back-to-back double-bogeys on his sixth and seventh holes - the 15th and 16th holes at Royal Pines Resort. He picked up birdies on three of his last five holes for an even-par second round of 72.
Scott had an afternoon start on Friday and only had to focus on his second round. Half the field had to get up before dawn for a 5:30 a.m. tee off to finish off the first round which was postponed late Thursday because of lightning and rain. Ian Poulter was among them, getting up at 3:30 - something he's never had to do in 17 years on the tour. The 40-year-old Englishman had a 68 in his second round and was 4 under for the tournament.
Scott, who spent time on the Gold Coast while growing up in Queensland, known as Australia's Sunshine State, didn't think it was too much of a hardship for the rest of the field.
"You get up at 5 anyway here in Queensland," the former world No. 1 said.. "I felt like a sleep in."
Scott had five birdies and a bogey on Friday, and was hitting most greens with ease, "making it fairly stress free."
"It's the best I've hit in a few weeks," said Scott, who had slow starts at the Australian Open and at the World Cup of Golf last month. "It was nice to find it. I haven't had that crisp stroke through the ball for two weeks.
"I've been very cautious not to hit it too far off line - I was in a spot today where I could trust it."
Dodt finished with a bogey on the 18th on Friday after a previously blemish-free round.
"I hit the green on the last, but unfortunately rushed my first putt and then missed the one coming back. So it was a frustrating way to finish ... but I'm not going to beat myself up about it too badly."
Hall finished runner-up to Jordan Spieth at the Australian Open at Royal Sydney last month, saying the result saved him from having to go out and get a job to support his family.
He finished with a 65 in the first round, waking up at 3:17 a.m. to make it to the early start, and went through the second round in 69.
"It was a record - 3.17 isn't really a good time to wake up but everyone else did it," he said.
After starting on the back nine, Hall was down to 11 under before a triple bogey 7 at the 412-meter 4th hole.
"I was kind of cruising along before a little speed hump, but I got it back in the end," Hall said. "I hit it right off the tee. It was a pretty bad shot actually. It hit the cart path and ended up in the hazard. Took a drop backward a little bit to try and hit the shot over the tree and in the bunker and 3-putted from there."
Round 1 - Better start for Adam ScottDecember 2, 2016
After slow starts in his past two tournaments, Adam Scott wanted to play the first round of the Australian PGA Championship like it was his last.
For the first time on this trip Down Under, he's in the red after the first round. The 2013 champion closed with three birdies for a 4-under 68 at Royal Pines Resort and was three shots behind leaders Andrew Dodt, Harold Varner, and Ashley Hall after a rain-interrupted opening round.
Dodt and Scott were in the half of the field which finished on Thursday before lightning and a storm forced organizers to postpone play until Friday morning.
Play resumed at 5:30 a.m. local time, and Varner completed his first round on Friday with birdies on his last two holes. Hall birdied four of his last seven holes.
Varner, who tied for second place last year, said it was a good way to get momentum going. He was playing his second round later Friday.
Matthew Griffin, who finished his opening round on Friday, was in fourth spot after a 66.
American player Julian Suri, who missed out by one stroke on getting a full card on the European Tour last month, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand were next at 5 under.
Scott has a share of seventh place, and was more content with his start than he had been in the previous two weeks.
''It's the last week of the year. There's no 'I'll get them next week' - (I) just have to make it count,'' Scott said. ''It didn't look pretty at the start but somehow I was 2 under after 3 and then hung in there and finished well.''
Scott has had his frustrations on this trip back to Australia, where he's planning on taking a vacation from next week. He opened with a 73 at the Australian Open in Sydney last month and finished the tournament six shots behind Jordan Spieth, who won in a playoff.
At the World Cup of Golf last weekend in Melbourne, Scott and Australian teammate Marc Leishman carded a 74 in an opening round that contained just one birdie.
On Thursday, Scott eagled the par-5 12th - his third hole - followed by a bogey at the 18th, before he turned and finished with the three birdies.
''A quick start and a quick finish adds up to a good score,'' said Scott, who won the Australian PGA Championship in 2013 and was runner-up the following year after a marathon playoff with Greg Chalmers. ''I was just treading water for a while ... cautious of going over the green in between clubs. You just have to be patient and it paid off.''
Jarrod Lyle produced the shot of the opening day with a hole-in-one on the 169-meter par-3 fifth.
''I wouldn't say it was the perfect shot,'' Lyle told the host broadcaster. ''It was a little bit thin but it worked out all right.''
|1||USA||Harold Varner III||-19||-||65||72||67||65||269|
|T6||NED||Darius van Driel||-8||-||72||73||68||67||280|
|T10||FRA||Romain Langasque (Am)||-6||-||74||70||68||70||282|
|T25||RSA||Jaco Van Zyl||-3||-||74||72||68||71||285|
|-||CHN||Wei Yu Zhu||5||-||75||74||-||-||149|