Queensland-based professional Aaron Pike has won his first professional tournament, taking out a thrilling edition of the Victorian PGA Championship at RACV Cape Schanck Resort.
Pike, who began the final round two shots off the lead, shot a two-under 68 to finish at 10-under the card.
He faced a nervous wait as New Zealander Ryan Chisnall played the 18th hole in the group behind needing a birdie to force a playoff. Chisnall could only manage par, giving Pike the biggest win of his professional career.
“My first win and it feels pretty darn good! It was rollercoaster out there. As I was saying earlier in the week, it was just going to be the guy who lasts the longest mentally out there and I feel as though I did really well at that,” said Pike, whose tournament consisted of rounds of 71, 65, 66 and 68 for his 10-under total.
“Today was probably the best I’ve played, but I didn’t make the most of my chances with the putter so to still get over the line is obviously a really good sign for myself. I was just grinding and grinding and grinding and wouldn’t let go so it was really good.”
Aaron Pike is your 2018 Victorian PGA Champion! pic.twitter.com/ayTsdVBnIB
— PGA of Australia (@PGAofAustralia) October 14, 2018
Sunday saw gusty winds return to Cape Schanck and blowing from the north, which Pike says resulted in a slightly different golf course.
“It was gusty and it came from a different direction today, it was a bit from the north which you don’t see too often in Victoria. You only see that on days when it’s 40 degrees. So it was coming from the north and the course is a little bit different then all of a sudden you need to be really diligent with where your lines are.
“I had my fair share of things not go my way and a few things go my way. I think everyone else in the field would say the same thing. It was typical Mornington Peninsula golf, you just had to be on top of your game.”
Pike joins an illustrious list of Victorian PGA Championship winners, including Marc Leishman who, in a slice of synchronicity, won the CIMB Classic on the US PGA Tour just hours after Pike recorded his win.
“There’s some guys on here like Nagle, Thomson, Rodger Davis, “Radar” Riley, Marc Leishman… to have my name next to some of those guys is unbelievable,” Pike said.
“But that’s just what we play in Australia. We’ve got some of the best golfers in the world so I’m sure there’s a few guys used to that feeling across the country. It’s amazing my name is going to be on a trophy of this stature.”
Pike will now have a guaranteed start alongside Leishman at the Australian PGA Championship at RACV Royal Pines Resort from November 29 to December 2, as well as full exemption on the ISPS Handa PGA Tour of Australasia until the end of the 2019 season. That means he’ll receive automatic entry into four co-sanctioned tournaments with the European Tour and Asian Tour.
“That’s huge and that’s the benefit of our tour, we’ve got co-sanctioned tournaments with the European Tour so if I play as well as I did here in one of those then who knows, I may be in Europe full time,” Pike added. “Now all of a sudden I can set my schedule up and plan my year, potentially go to some Q-schools and do a few different things. I’ll let the dust settle then go from there, it’s a bit surreal at the moment.”
Pike has entered the next two tournaments on the PGA Tour of Australasia, the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open followed by the Isuzu Queensland Open in his adopted hometown of Brisbane.
Norther Territory-born, Pike has been handed the mantle of honorary defending champion of the title with good mate Michael Sim playing overseas at the time.
“I’ll definitely be playing the Queensland Open at Brisbane Golf Club. I’ve been instructed by the defending champion to hold defending champion rights [as] he’ll be playing in Japan. After this I think it’ll be a tough ask but I’ll certainly try my best,” Pike said with a laugh.
Chisnall finished alone in second position at nine-under the card, while fellow Kiwi Harry Bateman was third at eight-under. Stephen Leaney, Matt Millar, Frazer Droop and Rick Kulacz all finished at seven-under in a tie for fourth. To view the final leaderboard, visit pga.org.au.
Maverick Antcliff and amateur partner Danny Lovell won the Victorian PGA Championship Celebrity Challenge at 32-under, one shot ahead of Droop and Lukas Michel at 31-under.
For his win, Pike receives $15,000 in prizemoney and moves to 41st on the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit. To view the full Order of Merit, visit pga.org.au.
The tour now heads west for the Nexus Risk TSA Group WA Open from October 25-28.