Futures ends in dramatic 5-hole playoff
The 2019 PGA National Futures Championship has been won in a nail biting finish with two players battling out in a five-hole playoff. PGA of Great Britain and Ireland Apprentice, Michael Bullen was victorious over Queensland Trainee, Gavin Fairfax after they both tied at 8-under after 72 holes.
50 Trainees teed off in challenging Ballarat conditions for the final round with many still in contention for the Championship.
Early tournament leader Cooper Eccleston was keen to claw back some ground after a disappointing 3rd round performance of 6 over par, 78 saw him drop to tied 4th overnight.
Eccleston’s aggressive game plan today was evident, with him securing early birdies, but came unstuck on the 14th with a triple bogey, finishing the tournament at 7-under.
PGA of New Zealand Champion Blair Riordan had his eye firmly on the prize looking to follow in his brother's footsteps who won the event back in 2012. After starting strongly he had consecutive birdies on the 2nd and 3rd hole to join Eccleston for the lead however it was the performances of Bullen and Fairfax that got the Ballarat galleries cheering.
Seemingly out of contention Bullen then rallied with 2 birdies on 16 and 17 to tie for the lead. Fairfax followed suit with a birdie of his own on 17 causing a four-way tie going into the last. While the rest of the field fell away it was Bullen and Farifax who handled the conditions best to both finish at 8-under resulting in a two-way playoff.
Four times the duo went down the 18th hole, each with their own opportunities at different times but still the pair could not be separated. The playoff then went to the 10th hole, par 5 where Fairfax, as he has done all tournament, played a controlled hole electing to layup. However fortune favored the brave and Bullen from 216 meters hit a 3 iron within 20 feet of the hole.
Fairfax made the green in regulation but missed his birdie opportunity leaving the door open for a two putt victory for Bullen.
He only needed one though stepping up and sinking the eagle putt for the win and the PGA National Futures Championship trophy.
“I can't believe it, that 3-iron I hit was probably the best shot i’ve hit all week and to do it in a playoff was just amazing”
“After 24 holes I didn't think I was any chance but I told myself just to stay in it and keep pushing and I managed to make some good birdies on 16 and 17 and force a playoff”
The Englishman thoroughly enjoyed his stay in Australia.
“Everyone here is so nice and everything has been amazing, i don't want to go but I am looking forward to getting home”
While Fairfax was disappointed, he was still proud of his week and his performance throughout the tournament.
“Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed not to get the win, but I was really happy with how I grinded out today and to make the play off was a bonus”
As the highest placed Australian Trainee Gavin will gain entry into the Australian PGA Championship to be played at RACV Royal Pines Resort from 19 - 22 December 2019.
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