PERTH • Hometown hero Brett Rumford nailed his final drive to beat Thai teenager Phachara Khongwatmai 2&1 in the six-hole matchplay final to win golf's inaugural World Super 6 title in Perth yesterday and reclaim his European Tour card.
Despite the innovative format, the 39-year-old Australian put together what was effectively a wire-to-wire victory at the Lake Karrinyup Country Club, having finished the first three rounds of strokeplay with a five-shot lead.
The final was all square until the fourth hole when Rumford got himself out of the trees, over a bunker and onto the green with a brilliant second shot before sinking a 10-foot putt to take the lead.
At the par-three penultimate hole, Rumford hit his tee shot to within three feet of the flag, while Phachara found the greenside bunker and had no luck putting his way out of the sand.
"It's amazing, particularly with the new format, the first win in that," said Rumford. "It's been a long, hard-fought week (and) I'm really proud of myself."
It was a sixth European Tour victory for Rumford, who turned professional the year after Phachara, 17, was born. "It's massive," he said. "I had a tough year but I'm back and I couldn't be happier."
While Rumford dominated all four days of the tournament, Phachara had trailed by nine shots after round three and grabbed the 24th and final spot in yesterday's matchplay knockout series with a par at the third play-off hole.
The Thai was on fire yesterday, however, and wins over locals Sam Brazel, Lucas Herbert, Matt Millar and Jason Scrivener put him into the final of the event, also co-sanctioned by the Australasian PGA and Asian tours.
He faced a long wait as Rumford battled his way past Adam Bland in the semi-finals but his touch ultimately deserted him.
Bland, who knocked out former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen in the quarter-finals, finished third after beating Scrivener 1-up in a play-off.
South African Oosthuizen had to settle for fifth after seeing off Australian Steven Jeffress 1-up in their play-off.
In Adelaide, South Korea's Jang Ha Na stormed to a three-shot victory in the women's Australian Open at Royal Adelaide with a blistering eagle-birdie finish yesterday.
The world No. 6 claimed her fourth LPGA tournament win with a 10-under 282 total. Her round of 69 equalled the lowest round of the day, despite gusty winds.
Denmark's Nanna Madsen (73) finished runner-up, with a group of four, including Thailand's world No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn (71), at joint third on 286.
Overnight leader American Lizette Salas, who led by three shots at the 11th hole yesterday, fell away badly to record a 78 and finish tied for seventh on 287.
New Zealand's world No. 1 Lydia Ko never fired in the tournament and finished tied for 46th place on 294 after a closing round of 75.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE