New Zealand’s Brad Shilton has won the 2012 South Pacific Golf Open Championship by one stroke.
Shooting an even par final round, for a tournament total of 13-under par 271, was enough to secure Shilton his break through win on the PGA Tour of Australasia.
“I’m stoked, it’s been a pretty long time coming so to finally get it done is awesome,” said Shilton.
“I still felt like I was playing ok, I tried to stay controlled and the whole day just really kept my head on.”
“To finish pretty strong at the end making a few birdies coming in, was awesome.”
Starting the day with a three shot lead, the 33-year-old held his composure as defending champion Matthew Griffin challenged for the title.
“I got a wee bit nervy I suppose but that’s going to happen. Considering I haven’t been in that position for ages, especially in one of these events, I am pretty proud of that.”
“I had a rough idea of what Matt was doing, but I wasn’t terribly sure until the 15th tee when I saw he was 13-under and probably going to 14, and that’s when I made a couple of birdies so I figured that I was keeping up with him.”
“I actually saw him hole a good putt on 16, which I figured was probably for birdie which would have put me one behind.”
“But then I heard it was for bogey so I would have been one in front there, I realised that if I could make birdie on 17 and have two shots it would be huge,” added Shilton, who made the birdie he was after.
Heading to the 18th green with a two shot lead, Shilton gave the strong crowd in attendance a moment of panic when he three putted the last, yet a bogey was enough to secure the win.
“I had been leaving putts short all week, so the first one wasn’t a surprise, I got a look at the leaderboard before I hit the second putt, saw that I was two in front and probably just didn’t really get focused enough on that one.”
“I was probably more thinking about, don’t get it wrong rather than just roll it in, I hit a pretty ugly putt but it doesn’t matter.”
Clearly emotional, the win was a long time coming for Shilton who has been playing the PGA Tour of Australasia for seven years.
“Not having played a lot this year I didn’t know where I was going to be standing for the next few events.”
“I didn’t really know if I was going to be playing well or not so it’s good to come out and do this.”
“It gives me a good start for the order of merit as well, so if I keep playing like this I’ll be alright for next year as well, so it’s all good.”
Defending champion Matthew Griffin headed into the final round five shots back from Shilton but worked himself into contention early in the day.
“It was good to get in the mix, starting five back is always tough to get back into it but to be able to do that was really good. I gave myself the chance but couldn’t quite finish it off,” said Griffin.
Eventually finishing second with a 12-under 272, Griffin was impressed with Shilton’s performance.
“Brad has played some really good golf down the stretch, he has won the tournament,” added Griffin, who also secured his first Professional victory at this event last year.
From New Caledonia, Griffin heads to Scotland for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he hopes to keeps the momentum going.
“Straight on a plane tomorrow to Scotland to play the Dunhill Links, so it’s nice to have some good form going in there and hopefully I have a good week.”
Finishing the South Pacific Golf Open Champion in a share of second at 11-under the card was South Australian Adam Bland and Queenslander Henry Epstein.