Aussie Bowditch nearing return to PGA Tour

Steven Bowditch

SAN JACINTO, Calif. (USA) – Steven Bowditch of Australia found the right time to get hot.

With only five events left – counting the $1 million Soboba Golf Classic – Bowditch pulled off a victory that more than likely will punch his return ticket to the PGA Tour next year.

Bowditch shot 68 Oct. 3 and finished at 19-under 265, three strokes ahead of Daniel Summerhays. Bowditch moved from No. 76 to No. 11 in earnings with the tour’s largest first-place check ($180,000). The top 25 earn 2011 PGA Tour cards.

“It’s a great feeling, but we’ve still got a lot of golf left to be played,” said Bowditch, who last won at the 2005 Jacob’s Creek Open. “There’ll be a lot of shuffling around with the players, but it should be locked, sealed and delivered.”

The 27-year-old Queenslander graduated to the PGA Tour in 2006 after finishing fourth on Nationwide’s money list in 2005.

But his rookie season was filled with challenges when he only made two cuts and was disqualified four times in 22 tournaments. He later attributed much of his disastrous performance to a diagnosis of severe depression.

“As a man it is not considered ‘tough’ to admit you have a mental problem,” Bowditch said in 2006. “But as soon as you sit down and talk about it with someone, it is a great weight off your shoulders.”

He now receives treatment for his depression and is a spokesman for beyondblue, an Australian non-profit organization promoting awareness of depression and related mental disorders.

“It feels better once you’ve accomplished something to lose it – and then go back. I feel a good sense of achievement,” he said Sunday.

Bowditch shot 8-under 63 Saturday after hitting only eight of 18 greens, but only needed 18 putts. (He had 96 for the week, one shy of the tour record.)

“I just holed everything I looked at, it’s that simple,” said Bowditch, who also tied the tour record for fewest putts in a round. “You can’t putt any better.”

Through Soboba, Bowditch is No. 3 in putting average (putts per green in regulation) on tour, but only No. 132 in greens in regulation.

Bowditch, who finished T8 at last week’s WNB Golf Classic in Texas, now heads to the Chattanooga Classic, Oct. 7-10.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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