Date: December 14, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Felton keeps it real despite first pro win

Who said professional golf was all glitz and glamour?

Certainly not newly minted New South Wales PGA Championship winner Jarryd Felton.

Felton, a former Golf Australia national squad member, saluted in just his fifth start as a professional when he beat James Nitties, US PGA Tour player Rhein Gibson, Anthony Summers, Matt Millar and playing partner Geoff Drakeford by two strokes at Riverside Oaks in Cattai on Sunday evening.

But there was no time for the celebrations one might have assumed with the Perth 20-year-old scrambling east to make a plane at Sydney by 8pm.

After arriving home at 10pm (western time), Felton was already back at home base Gosnells Golf Club by 5am this morning to keep his casual job in the pro shop ticking along.

“Yeah, it’s not that glamorous, is it?” Felton joked.

“Nah, this is where I’ve come through as a junior and the club and my boss have been very good to me, so you have to do the right thing back.”

Felton pocketed $16,500 after his final-round 68, the day’s joint-best score, earned his pro breakthrough.

And while the money will come in more than handy as he prepares to tackle the Asian Tour’s Q-School next month, the result represented a far bigger prize in his mind.

Felton earned a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour of Australasia for his efforts, also avoiding a trip to Q-School later this month.

“It’s a really nice feeling to have a job for two years,” he said.

“It was a great feeling to get the win … just to show you can mix it (with the pros).”

That feeling came as something of a shock for Felton.

He had shared the opening-round lead on the Bungool Course at Riverside Oaks with a 65, but found himself two shots behind third-round leader Rhein Gibson when he found a leaderboard with four holes to play on Sunday.

Minutes later, unbeknown to Felton, Gibson took double-bogey on the 12th and then another bogey on the 15th.

So when the West Australian rolled in birdie on 17, he was two in front.

“But I hadn’t seen a board until after I hit my approach into 18, and then things got pretty serious pretty quickly,” Felton said with a giggle.

“The pulse got up a bit, but I just lagged it down and made the two-putt and that was it … so it was a pretty cool way to win.”

Felton will take time off from competitive golf for a few weeks while training and working at Gosnells before his assault on Asia begins in Thailand in early January.

His medium-term goal is to work towards the European Tour, where he came up short in Q-School in November.

“It’s good to have something to fall back on now and a bit of money to pay for Asian Q-School. It’s a much better position to be in this time.”

Felton, who has a history of back injuries, said his body was finally in great shape.

“Yep, no problems. Just have to manage it now and it should be fine.”

The win caps a remarkable year for Felton who remarkably went unbeaten playing at No.1 in the West Australian team at the Interstate Series in Melbourne before turning pro before the Fiji International.

He had two great results touring with an Australian team to South America, finishing runner-up at both the Southern Cross Invitational and in the Argentina Strokeplay Championship.

His pro career has also begun well, with no result worse than 21st since his second tournament, the WA PGA in October.