American Ackerman claims the PGA National Classic


Ackerman, ranked 1,321 in the world, held on to his lead after day three to win by two strokes with a closing 68.

His four-under on Friday in tricky winds at the Gunnamatta course at The National left him 15-under overall, just ahead of Aussies Blake Windred, Nathan Barbieri and amateur Harrison Crowe at 13-under.

Ackerman, 25, from San Francisco, has been playing the last two years on the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia without notable success. Previously, his only top-10 finish was at last year’s Isuzu Queensland Open.

But this week he birdied five of his first 10 holes in round one to start well, and he was in or near the lead all week, trading off drama on Thursday when strong winds forced a retirement.

Blake Windred is now second on the Order of Merit and close to a DP World Tour card. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

“He hasn’t hit me yet, because I didn’t know where I was standing until I got to the last hole,” he said. “I told my caddy not to tell me. We made a bet that if he didn’t birdie one of the last two, she’d buy him a box. I didn’t, so I do.

Ackerman was three ahead when he pitched it three feet and birdied the short par-4 12th, and was mostly steady all the way except for a three-putt bogey on the par-3 16th, where the margin was trimmed to two. He made trading pairs on the short 17th and par 4 18th, capitalizing on the latter to seal his first win and a $36,000 winner’s check.

The Californian also gets a two-year exemption from the Tour, meaning he’s likely to skip the remaining three Tour events this season and return home to see his family in America.

It was his former coach Alex Murray who first suggested a few years ago that Ackerman go abroad to play golf.

“He hasn’t hit me yet, because I didn’t know where I was standing until I got to the last hole. I told my caddy not to tell me. We made a bet that if he didn’t birdie one of the last two, I’d buy him a box. I didn’t, so I do. Derek Ackerman.

“He wanted me to play internationally, playing in different conditions, on different fields. He had some connections here for him to feel at home. I came here for a family trip three years ago, I got to play Royal Melbourne, I played New South Wales with my dad.

“I love links golf, especially courses like this, because you have so many shots you can hit. It’s not just a stock shot like some American golf courses. He was trying to go the way of Brooks Koepka in a sense. It’s part of the journey for me.”

The result was also significant for Blake Windred (67 today), who overtook Andrew Dodt and moved into second place on the Australasian Tour Order of Merit, a race that offers three DP World Tour cards in a couple of months.

Jed Morgan, who finished 12th, is unassailable at the top after his win at the Fortinet Australian PGA Championship in Brisbane.

The other big winner was Sydney fan Harrison Crowe, winner of the Golf Challenge NSW Open, who backed him up with a T3 finish to emphasize his potential.

The battle for the three European cards resumes at the CKB WA PGA Championship at Kalgoorlie Golf Club starting April 21, with three events remaining on the schedule.

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Reference-www.golfaustralia.com.au

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