Daniel Gale (272) felt the tournament was his to lose when he started eagle-birdie on Tuesday morning to get proceedings underway in his fifth attempt to win the prestigious Keperra Bowl.
The New South Welshman – from the Castle Hill Golf Club – fired three rounds in the 60s and finished with a two-under par 70 to win by four shots from defending champion Charlie Dann of Pelican Waters. Equal with Dann was Royal Adelaide’s Billy Cawthorne.
Gale (69-66-67-70) finished 16-under the card and played superb golf in what was his first national ranking event victory. He had an eagle, 20 birdies and five bogeys in his four rounds and was ecstatic with his win.
“I have worked so hard for this,” said the 21-year-old who plans to turn professional at the end of the year.
“I’ve finished top five in every national ranking event in the country so it is a relief, and a huge thrill, to finally breakthrough for a win.”
But while he started the tournament at Keperra Country Golf Club brilliantly, he was off to a very shaky start this morning.
“I had two bogeys in the first two holes and at one stage I think both Billy and Charlie came within two shots,” said Gale, who led by five overnight.
“But I was proud of the way I held it together. Standing over just about every shot on the back nine I felt nervous, but I just kept telling myself I was playing well and to just go through the process.
“The fact I came home two-under, with that kind of pressure on me, will be tremendous for my confidence going forward.”
Gale, who has recently undergone a major fitness regime, said he was a ‘chubby kid’ growing up.
“I was probably a fit fatty weighing about 96 kilos, but I didn’t like the way I looked and the way I felt about myself. Four years ago, though exercise and diet, I lost 26 kilos in six months.”
Yet there were negatives. Gale said he had become a gym junkie, training six to seven days a week and his mobility on the golf course suffered.
“I started working with Precision Athletica, an Institute of Sport based at Sydney's Olympic Park, about two years ago and I believe now my attitude to all things relating to my health, eating and exercise, is just about perfect.
“And this win supports that theory.”
Apart from victory in the highly-regarded tournament, Gale wins automatic acceptance into the Isuzu Queensland Open which will be played at The Brisbane Golf Club from October 26-29, and after last month earning an exemption into the NSW Open at Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club.
Defending champion Dann, who concedes to having been somewhat out of sorts on the golf course recently, bogeyed the final hole today to smudge a particularly good round.
He shot six birdies and two bogeys in a classy round of 68 to go with his first round 67 and his third round 68. But his one-over 73 in round two, which included a triple on the par three fourth hole, was the difference in the end.
Shae Wools-Cobb (Maroochy River) returned an unspoilt final round 66 to finish tied for fourth with Jed Morgan (Royal Queensland (both on 277). But the best round on the final day – and for the tournament – was a superb 65 from John Lyras, of St Michaels in Sydney. Lyras shot six-under on the front nine, birdying the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th.
Leaderboard: Click here