Brett Rumford claimed his sixth European Tour title in emphatic fashion as he beat Phachara Khongwatmai in the final of the inaugural ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth.
The European Tour was breaking new ground in Western Australia, with an event consisting of 54 holes of stroke play before a 24-man six-hole match play competition on Sunday.
Rumford was utterly dominant in both, leading after all three days of stroke play – by five shots at 17 under on Saturday night – and then sealing four wins in match play to complete a wonderful turnaround after losing his playing privileges last season.
His 2 and 1 victory over Thai teenager Khongwatmai in the final delighted the home fans, who saw a Perth native lift the trophy at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.
Rumford finished 118th on the Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex last term but will now have an exemption until the end of the 2018 season after claiming his first win since the 2013 Volvo China Open.
“It’s amazing, particularly being a new format, the first winner of that,” he said.
“Golf is bigger than one person. If it’s going to grow the game and it’s more than just a golf tournament and it becomes an event in which we’re trying to grow this sport with a bit more thrill and excitement about it, then I think as a Tour we’ve done a great job.
“It’s great to be back. I’ve done a lot of reflection these past few months after missing my Tour card last year. I had a tough year and didn’t see my family that much, only four weeks in six months. It was a gruelling six months but I’m back and I couldn’t be happier.”
Khongwatmai, 17, would have become the second youngest winner in European Tour history and while that was not meant to be, he clearly has a big future after becoming the youngest winner of a professional event in 2013 at the age of just 14.
As one of the eight seeds, Rumford had a bye in the first round and overcame Hideto Tanihara, Wade Ormsby and Adam Bland on the way to the final.
Khongwatmai needed three trips up the last on Saturday to secure the 24th and final spot in the Super 6 and he defeated Australians Sam Brazel, Lucas Herbert, Matthew Millar and Jason Scrivener to set up a clash against Rumford over the tenth, second, eighth, 11th, 12th and 18th holes, with the 93-yard shoot-out hole available to separate them had they been all square after six.
Rumford got off to a sensational start, putting his approach to the first to three feet, and when Khongwatmai flew the green into a bunker and failed to get up and down, the hole was conceded.
It was the 39 year old doing the conceding on the second, sending his tee-shot well right and his second well left and, with Khongwatmai safely on the green in two, balls were picked up when Rumford missed his par putt.
Khongwatmai found a bunker off the tee at the par three third but recovered beautifully, with Rumford cosying his ball up to the hole as they walked off all square.
Rumford looked in trouble again when he sent his second shot on the par five fourth a long way left but he played a sensational shot over a bunker to set up a ten-foot birdie and a one-hole lead.
An approach to two feet on the fifth piled the pressure on Khongwatmai, and when he put his tee-shot in the bunker and failed to get out with his second, it was all over.
Bland finished third after beating Scrivener in a play-off, with Louis Oosthuizen fifth followed by Steven Jeffress, Millar and Ormsby.