First Popovic victory inspired by the courage of his parents

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HOme golfer Daniel Popovic achieved his first professional victory with a four-shot triumph at the Australian PGA Championship on a dramatic final day at the Palmer Coolum Resort.

Popovic began the round two shots ahead and increased his lead after an early birdie before a double bogey on the par-3 eighth saw him slip a shot behind Rod Pampling.

A birdie on the par-5 12th brought him to within a shot of the leader, but Pampling, who began the day with six straight birdies, faltered with consecutive bogeys. A birdie at 17 put Popovic firmly in the driving seat with a two-shot lead and his advantage was increased to four when Pampling double bogeyed after finding the water.

A par at the last confirmed Popovic’s victory with the Australian carding a 69 to finish 16 under par and claim the 225,000-dollar winner’s cheque.

“Next year is going to be completely different to what I had planned two weeks ago,” said Popovic, ranked 1,251st in the world. He won the PGA Tour of Australasia Q-School last year, but hardly played after his father was diagnosed with cancer. Inspired by the way his parents tackled the illness, he re-dedicated himself to the sport in a bid for a first professional victory. “For him this is going to be everything, I cant wait to give him a big bear hug,” said Popovic.

Pampling finished second alongside Anthony Brown on 12-under-par.