Date: February 02, 2015
Author: Mark Hayes

Goggin starts season with bang

Australian Mathew Goggin has won the Tour’s Panama Claro Championship.

Goggin, 40, fired a closing three-under-par 67 to win in Panama City, to win by four strokes and put a huge downpayment on a US PGA Tour card next season.

As the other contenders fell away, the sweet-swinging Tasmanian played bogey-free golf for his fifth career victory on the secondary tour, immediately vaulting him to the top of the money list in the new season.

It’s the second time Goggin has won the event, after his 2011 triumph. He has yo-yoed between the PGA Tour and secondary tour for more than a decade, but it’s his first victory since June 2011 in the Wichita Open and ended a spell of play that left him wondering.

“Last year was a bit of a disaster really. I didn’t play well, never really hit the ball well at all, it was a bit of a struggle,” Goggin said after his round.

“But I had a few things in place and made a few technical change … practice had been good, I was feeling good and I played nicely all week.

“Especially coming down the stretch today, I hit a lot of good shots – it was really rewarding.

“All week I felt pretty calm and comfortable, it is a course I have played well at, having won here before … (so) there was a lot good vibes and holes I liked, that always helps.

“You hope for that [such a big victory margin] but you never expect it. It was just a really good week from the moment I got off the plane.”

The Tasmanian burst to prominence with a win in the Australian PGA Tour’s ANZ Tour Championship in 1998 after he won the Australian Amateur Championship in 1995. Today marked his ninth win as a touring professional.

Another big Aussie result came from the rapidly emerging Rhein Gibson, who fired a 66 to rocket through to T6 at four under. Gibson actually began his round with five consecutive birdies en route to an opening-nine 28, but made three late bogeys when the record books beckoned for the New South Welshman.

Golf Australia rookie squad member Oliver Goss, of Perth, also turned in a solid effort through the week, but his final-round 74 dropped him six spots to T12 at two under, nine behind Goggin.

Melbourne’s Ashley Hall also dropped six spots in the final round, his -1 finish still good for a tie for 15th.

China's Li Hao-tong, the third-round leader, had a 76 to finish alongside Goss at 3 under after making a strong debut as last year’s PGA Tour China's Order of Merit leader.