Date: February 24, 2008
Author: Luke Buttigieg at Moonah Links

Ewan conquers Moonah

Ewan Porter has blown his rivals away to claim his maiden professional title at Moonah Links, romping away to a seven-stroke victory in the inaugural Moonah Classic. Having needed further treatment on Sunday morning to the neck injury he suffered 24 hours earlier in the gym, the 25-year-old only led by a shot with 18 holes remaining but he quickly put his rivals at arm&aposs length and kept them there. After opening with a five-under 67 to set the 18-hole pace, and then following it up with successive 71s to firstly share the lead with Wayne Perske at halfway and then lead outright again on Saturday night, Porter closed with a flawless 66 to be 13 under overall. And that not only left him well clear of Tee McCabe and DJ Brigman but, having stated his intention on Thursday to move to Scottsdale in an attempt to carve out a career for himself in the United States, also gave him guaranteed playing rights on the Nationwide Tour for 2008 and 2009. McCabe did his best to hang on to Porter&aposs tail after making an eagle at the 4th hole but was unable to do so and had to settle for a 71 and equal second place with his compatriot DJ Brigman (70) on six under. Porter&aposs playing partner Terry Price also kept himself in touch until the turn before stumbling on the back nine and signing for a 74 and fourth place on minus four, while local Jarrod Lyle (71) and Argentine Fabian Gomez (72) tied for fifth on three under. Alistair Presnell (74), DA Points (70) and Scott Gutschewski (71) were the only other players in red figures, and Perske (78), Wade Ormsby (70), Ricky Barnes (73), Bret Guetz (74) and Bryan Decorso (74) rounded out the top 10 on even par. Perske, who chipped in for eagle at the last on Saturday to be within a shot of the lead, gave himself hope with a birdie at the 4th playing alongside Porter, but then endured a horror run that included a double bogey and six bogeys to drop eight shots in 10 holes. Having won the Australasian and Nationwide Tour co-sanctioned event, Porter is also well on the way to finishing inside the top 25 on the latter&aposs money list – which would give him a US PGA Tour card for next year. With every previous winner of the Jacob&aposs Creek Open – which the Moonah Classic has replaced – graduating to the main American tour the following year, Porter has won about US$130,000, with 25th place last year on the Nationwide Tour worth about US$196,000. His injury aside, what made Porter&aposs performance all the more remarkable was the way he handled the difficult conditions, finishing under par on each of the four days and making only eight bogeys in total, including none on the final day. Porter&aposs win was the 33rd on the Nationwide Tour by an Australian as he became the 22nd from Down Under to taste success, just weeks after Lyle did so by a similar margin at the Mexico Open After opening with a solid par, Porter sizzled away from his rivals with a hat-trick of birdies from the 2nd hole to establish a three-shot buffer, and neither McCabe or Price got any closer. So impressive was Porter that not only did he collect six birdies in the round of the tournament but he also found his way out of trouble several times, scrambling to make up for wayward tee shots and also making some clutch putts. Porter got up and down for par at the 5th hole after hitting through the green, and then amazingly recovered from a stray tee shot at the 6th that left him needing to dig himself out of deep rough and then hole a six-metre putt for par. Another poor drive at 10 saw him leave his second shot near a cart path but he holed a five-metre par putt, and at 11 brilliantly recovered to make a four-metre birdie after his tee shot onto the edge of a bunker forced him to hit his second shot with his feet in the sand well below his ball. At the 12th Porter rammed his second shot to within six feet of the hole for his fifth birdie and the five-shot advantage that made the trip home over the closing half-dozen holes a memorable one for the Cronulla resident, who grabbed his final birdie at the last.