Date: March 06, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Eccles cashes in on late chance

Mabye it's Ben Eccles' British heritage; maybe it's just that he's quickly coming of age as a young pro.

Regardless, the Golf Australia rookie squad member will this week bank another big cheque on the European Tour after a T9 finish at the Tshwane Open in South Africa.

And it's becoming a habit for the 22-year-old, who already has made four substantial deposits playing in four European starts this summer.

The 2015 New South Wales Open champion as an amateur, Eccles pocketed almost $35,000 for his T7 finish in October's Fiji International.

The Geelong ace banked $6,200 at the Australian PGA Championship, then $10,500 at the World Super 6 Perth — all events jointly sanctioned by the domestic tour and Europe.

But it was the weekend's event in South Africa at which Eccles really turned European heads.

A slow start to his final round at the Pretoria Country Club cost Eccles any chance of running down eventual winner Dean Burmester.

But his even-par 71 — highlighted by three late birdies — was good enough for T9 in the jointly sanctioned Sunshine Tour event and another $33,000.

It was a nice pay day for the Victorian who was only invited into the field on Monday last week.

Golf Australia high performance director Brad James said it was a great sign for Eccles that he puts his name in the mix when given a chance.

"It's nice that Ben is being rewarded financially for his good play," James said.

"But I'm sure his team is keeping it all in perspective as these are steps on a longer pathway he's on to find status on one of the major tours.

"Ben didn't have a start at Tshwane this time last week, so it's a great sign that he was professionally able to take the late call-up and be ready to go.

"Many of our young athletes are put into situations like this similar to Ben and need to be ready to compete at any moment."

Eccles is returning to his home ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia this week to compete in the New Zealand Open near Queenstown.