Former Victorian PGA winner Steve Jeffress has claimed the biggest victory of his career, capturing the $US1million Fiji International.
A former amateur star, Higginbotom began the final day of the OneAsia and PGA Tour of Australasia event sharing the lead and had moved to two ahead at the turn before nervous bogeys at the 10th and the 13th holes left him struggling.
Then came a two shot turnaround at the par-three 15th as Higginbottom’s tee shot found a hazard resulting in a bogey while Jeffress made a birdie.
Higginbottom dropped another shot at the 16th, giving Jeffress a three-shot lead with two to play and he finished off in style with a birdie at the 18th.
"I’m over the moon and a bit surprised," said the Gold Coast-based Jeffress, whose performance earned him a a prize cheque of $US180,000.
The veteran’s previous best performance was winning the 2006 Victorian PGA. "It has been years of hard work and family support so it feels very special."
Fellow Australians Terry Pilkadaris and Andrew Dodt tied for third, eight behind the winner while hometown drawcard Vijay Singh, who designed the Natadola Bay course, finished off with a 73 to tie for 10th.
"This is the number one win of my career without a doubt…I just hit it in the right places this week." Jeffress’ big payday shot him to third on the OneAsia Order of Merit behind South Koreans Kim Seung-hyuk and Park Jun-won with five events remaining this year.
Meanwhile, Victorian veteran Robert Allenby has had a lucky break on the US PGA Tour. Allenby missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, but landed right on the right number for the Fed Ex Cup points table. This means he will retain his playing rights for the 2015 PGA Tour and play the opening event of the Fed Ex Cup playoffs this coming week in New Jersey.
Allenby began the week in 122nd position on the table and while he missed out on the weekend action he waited anxiously to see if any other players would knock him out of contention.
In the end he finished in 125th position and now does not need to take part in the Web.Com Tour Finals.
Heath Slocum had started behind Allenby in the points table but fought back late in his round and a missed putt from three metres at the final hole which probably would have made the difference between either Allenby or Slocum claiming the last spot.
By: Robert Grant