Nick Cullen has incorporated robust resilience and canny class to deliver his finest ever performance at the Australian Open and earn a ticket into the 2016 Open Championships at Royal Troon.
Cullen signed for a final round 3-under 68 to finish five strokes behind winner Matt Jones (8-under). He entered the scorer's hut bemoaning missed putts on the final four holes he was adamant had cost him the coveted Open spot. But Geoff Ogilvy's double bogey on 17 and Lincoln Tighe's missed birdie putt on the 72nd hole catapulted a beaming Cullen to Scotland.
"I'm surprised and extremely happy," he said, having completed media commitments an hour earlier on the basis he had missed Open qualification by two shots.
"I didn't really think it was going to happen at the end there.
"I missed a couple of putts coming in. I hit good putts on the last 4 holes and none of them went in so I thought of thought that did my chances in. It definitely took out any chance of winning, so I guess the next thing was trying to get The Open spot.
"And I thought when I missed all of those that was done too, but it went my way and I'm extremely happy to be there next year."
Cullen's greatest asset, his wedge play, had let him down at crucial times over the first three rounds, but he was regularly knocking pins over on Sunday.
"They were a lot better today,' he said of his short clubs.
"Definitely hit a few close and gave myself a lot more chances so that was a lot better. Still a couple too many bogeys on the card but I played well and looking forward to playing well next week."
Cullen will tee it up in the Australian PGA at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast from Thursday before heading to the U.S. and the web.com Tour finals the following week.
Matt Jonees -8 (67-68-68-73) – Champion
Adam Scott -7 (71-73-68-65) – tied 2nd
Jordan Spieth -7 (71-68-67-71) – tied 2nd
South Australian Players:
Nick Cullen -3 (70-73-70-68) tied 5th
Wade Ormsby +4 (71-71-73-73) tied 30th
Peter Cooke +5 (73-74)
Antonio Murdaca +6 (76-72)
Jason Norris +7 (73-76)
Matthew Lisk +10 (72-80)
Max McCardle +12 (75-79)
Tom Bond +13 (78-77)