By Neal Maidment
Victorian Ben Eccles held off a last-day charge from WA’s Haydn Barron to score a dominant win in the WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie Golf Course.
Although Barron closed with a best-of-the-day 65 (seven under) around the desert track, Eccles’s six-stroke advantage over the field going into the last day ultimately left the chasing pack with too much to do.
Despite some early stutters, Eccles (pictured above) made a pair of important par-saving putts on 7 and 8 before he holed a sensational bunker shot for birdie on 10 to retain his stranglehold on the championship.
Eccles finally carded a four-under-par 68 for a 23-under four-round total of 265 to win by five from Barron, with SA’s Lachlan Barker and Kiwi Kit Bittle sharing third three shots further back.
It marked Eccles’ first PGA Tour of Australasia win as a professional, although he had previously won the NSW Open as a 20-year-old amateur.
Now 28, Eccles admitted that he didn’t expect he’d wait so long to taste tour victory again. “At that age, I thought everything was to come,” he said.
“I thought things would be pretty easy, to be honest, and it’s been absolutely far from that. It’s been a tough road. I’m pretty lost for words.”
Barron’s 65 for outright second was a remarkable result for a player who only arrived from Scotland on the morning of the tournament, having been competing in the rain-delayed Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews until the Monday of championship week.
He battled to a level-par 72 on day one, providing the foundation for a strong week that some suggested he would be better off missing.
“I spoke to a few people that were close to me coming back from Scotland and they said maybe skip it, but I said I wanted to play,” said Barron.
“I needed to come and try and get some [Order of Merit] points, so that’s a good start and probably makes the remainder of the year less stressful.”
Other notable results
Elsewhere in the field, there was another heartening showing from WA tour rookie Josh Greer, who ended the event T9th at -12, a week after finishing T11th at the Nexus Advisernet Bowra & O’Dea WA Open. Braden Becker also had a steady week, claiming T19th at -8.
Eighteen-year-old WA amateur Joseph Buttress, meanwhile, was one of only 10 players to fire four rounds under par as he carded 69, 70, 71 and 71 en route to a share of 22nd. You can view the final standings here.
It was also a weekend to remember for QLD’s Lachie Wood, who won the WA PGA All Abilities Championship with a 36-hole total of one-under-par.
This was good enough to give Wood a seven-stroke win over Cameron Pollard and give him a second consecutive significant victory after bagging the WA Open All Abilities title a week earlier.
Image credits: Australian Golf Media