In-form Pike defeats Sim in NT PGA playoff
Aaron Pike has returned to his roots after securing a home-town win at the NT PGA Championship at Palmerston Golf and Country Club in Darwin.
Pike, who played his junior golf at the Palmerston layout, began the day alongside talented NSW amateur Nathan Barbieri, however, the burly 34-year-old got off to a whirlwind start and held a four-shot lead at one stage.
Aaron Pike (Credit: Taylah Somerville/PGA Australia)
Meanwhile Michael Sim was quietly devouring the course, sinking four birdies on the front nine before picking up shots again on the back nine at the 15th, 16th and 18th holes to finish at 12-under and take the clubhouse lead following a superb 6-under 65.
Pike failed to find any traction on the way home, missing several birdie chances including a five-metre attempt at the 18th hole for victory, forcing the Brisbane-based pro into a playoff with Sim.
Both players failed to find the fairway with their tee shots and when Sim couldn’t find the green with his second shot out of the rough, Pike was left with an easy par to secure the iconic crocodile head trophy.
“Winning is always special, winning around here is going to mean that little bit more,” said Pike, whose only other victory on the Australasian PGA Tour came at the 2018 Victorian PGA Championship.
“I had my oldest brother Michael caddieing for me so that’s something that I’m unlikely to ever get the opportunity to go through again. I had all my family watching so it does mean a little bit more, I just could never acknowledge that until the end.”
“I made a conscious effort to say to myself that I’ve played this golf course more than anyone else here, I know what to do around this golf course, let myself make the decision, trust the decision and go from there.”
While disappointed with his loss, Sim, who won the Queensland PGA Championship earlier this year, was gracious in defeat.
“Aaron’s been playing well. I know he’s been working hard on his body and his game, he’s been practising quite hard over the past month or so. It’s a credit to him to put it all together this week and have a win on his home course,” said Sim.
Barbieri finished three off the pace and will be rueing his opening double-bogey along with three other dropped shots in the final round that would have easily seen him walk away with victory.
The 23-year-old shared third place alongside European Tour player, Deyen Lawson.
The next scheduled tournament on the Australasian PGA Tour is the Gippsland Super 6, which is set to take place on the 21 January at Yallourn Golf Club in Victoria.