Date: December 01, 2008
Author: Angus Morgan at Huntingdale

Pampling wins Masters

Queensland&aposs Rod Pampling has defeated Victorian Marcus Fraser on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff at Huntingdale to claim the 2008 Australian Masters gold jacket. The pair was tied at twelve-under after the regulation 72 holes and went to the 18th to sort themselves out. Both parred the first two playoff holes but Fraser&aposs bogey at the next when he missed from two-metres opened the door for 39-year-old Pampling to tap in for his first Australasian Tour victory since the 1999 Canon Challenge. “I played great today and I hit a lot of quality shots and that&aposs all I kept telling myself every time we got back to the 18th tee was, &aposhit a shot, hit a shot&apos,” Pampling said. “There was no stress at any stage.” A disastrous late double bogey halted overnight leader and tournament favourite Robert Allenby&aposs challenge in its tracks. Allenby was devastated after signing his card for a one-over 73 which left him at nine-under in outright third place. Pampling, who fired a final round 67 and Fraser (65) jousted for the lead for much of the back nine on Sunday. Starting the day at five-under, Fraser set the tone with six birdies on the front nine to be out in 30. Striding the course like a man on a mission, the 30-year-old gave himself every chance by knocking his approaches at one, two, six and eight within about five feet. An errant drive cost him a shot at the 400-metre par-four 11th, but he rebounded with successive birdies at 13 and 14 before finishing with four straight pars. In the clubhouse at 276 (12-under), Fraser, who tied for 10th at last year&aposs Masters, knew this time he would be thereabouts. Faced with a wait of 40 minutes or so to see what Pampling could come up with, Fraser spent much of the time trying keep his wife, who&aposs eight months pregnant, from becoming too excited. Fraser revealed later that Carlie had already been to hospital earlier in the day and returned there after play had finished showing signs of an early labour. “I just hope that she&aposs alright and the baby&aposs OK, that&aposs the priority,” Fraser said. “Golf&aposs not even in the picture.” Fraser was thankful just to be competing after straining his back competing in Spain seven weeks ago and credited his coach Denis McDade for getting his game into top shape. “The last two days is the best golf I&aposve played by a country mile – I feel like I&aposm back to the way I should be playing,” he said. “I reckon I&aposm going to get my hands on that trophy one day.” Pampling, who started the day at minus-seven, three strokes behind overnight leaders Allenby and Michael Sim, made his move at the 490-metre par-five seventh, when he sank a 10-metre putt for eagle. He got to 12-under with a birdie at the 10th but, try as he might, couldn&apost pick up the single stroke he needed over the closing eight holes to win in regulation. The 39-year-old, dressed like a bandit from a B-Grade western in black from head to toe, had makeable birdie putts at 16, 17 and, to a lesser extent, 18 and squandered the lot. Two-time Masters champion Allenby&aposs challenge foundered with a horrible five at the 161-metre par-three 15th that was almost too bad to be true. At the time the 37-year-old was just one stroke off the pace and looking to make something happen, but the train wreck that followed was not the something he had in mind. Allenby needed three shots from two separate bunkers to get the ball onto the green before somehow managing to hole his putt from all of 10 metres for a double-bogey. His campaign unravelled, a distraught Allenby stopped to embrace his seriously ill mother, Sylvia, who had been following his progress in a golf cart. Playing partner and overnight joint-leader Michael Sim stumbled on the front nine when he twice landed the ball in the gallery en route to a bogey at the 322-metre par-four second and dropped a shot at the next to slip to eight under. His prospects of a breakthrough win evaporated altogether when his chip from beside the green at the 314-metre par-four eighth skipped past the hole and rolled into a bunker. Rallying strongly following his disastrous 76 on Saturday, Tim Clark of South Africa, who led the tournament outright at the half-way mark, fired a feisty 67 to finish in a tie for fourth at eight-under with Nathan Green (70) and Alexander Noren of Sweden (68).