Sensational Rumford Hits The Field For Six in Perth
BRETT RUMFORD emerged from the depths of despair to get his career back on track with a thrilling victory in the first ISPS Handa World Super 6 in Perth.
The 39-year-old Australian lost his playing privileges after finishing 118th in the Race to Dubai last season and went into this campaign depending on sponsors' invitations. As a five-time winner on the European Tour it was not where he wanted or expected to be, and he hated it.
But his sixth victory, in a unique event that grabbed the attention of the golfing public in Perth and beyond, means that he can once again plan his playing schedule, safe in the knowledge that he has regained his card for the rest of this year and right up until the end of 2018.
Rumford led the field after 54 holes of strokeplay, after which the leading 24 players were seeded to play a series of six-hole matchplay contests and he emerged victorious, beating 17-year-old Thai sensation Phachara Khongwatmai 2&1in the final. His win was all the more memorable because he comes from Perth and was cheered every step of the way by local fans at the magnificent Lake Karrinyup Country Club, a course where membership is by invitation only.
It was his first win since the 2013 Volvo China Open and he was delighted to be the first winner of this format. "It's amazing, particularly being a new format, the first winner of that," he said.
"Golf is bigger than one person. If it's going to grow the game and it's more than just a golf tournament and it becomes an event in which we're trying to grow this sport with a bit more thrill and excitement about it, then I think as a Tour we've done a great job.
"It's great to be back. I've done a lot of reflection these past few months after missing my Tour card last year. I had a tough year and didn't see my family that much, only four weeks in six months. It was a gruelling six months but I'm back and I couldn't be happier."
Khongwatmai would have become the second youngest winner in European Tour history. But don't worry too much about his future - in 2013 he won a professional event in his homeland at the age of 14. He is clearly a very gifted individual.
As one of the eight seeds, Rumford had a bye in the first round and overcame Hideto Tanihara, Wade Ormsby and Adam Bland on the way to the final.
Khongwatmai needed three trips up the last on Saturday to secure the 24th and final spot in the Super 6 and he beat Australians Sam Brazel (already a torunament winner this season), Lucas Herbert, Matthew Millar and Jason Scrivener to set up a clash against Rumford over the 10th, second, eighth, 11th, 12th and 18th holes, with a 93-yard shoot-out hole available to separate them had they been all square after six.
If Rumford was feeling any pressure he did not show it. He got off to a sensational start, putting his approach to the first to three feet, and when Khongwatmai flew the green into a bunker and failed to get up and down, the hole was conceded.
Rumford conceded the second, sending his tee-shot well right and his second well left and, with Khongwatmai safely on the green in two, balls were picked up when Rumford missed his par putt.
Khongwatmai found a bunker off the tee at the par three third but recovered beautifully, with Rumford easing his ball up to the hole as they walked off all square.
Rumford was in trouble when he sent his second shot on the par five fourth way left but he played a glorious shot over a bunker to set up a 10-foot birdie and a one-hole lead.
An approach to two feet on the fifth put the pressure on Khongwatmai, and when he put his tee-shot in the bunker and failed to get out with his second, it was all over.
Bland finished third after beating Scrivener in a play-off, with Louis Oosthuizen fifth followed by Steven Jeffress, Millar and Ormsby.
Tags: european tour
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