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Becker wins WA Open in titanic tussle

Braden Becker has survived a titanic tussle with young amateur Hayden Hopewell to win his home state WA Open by one shot, claiming a breakthrough Australasian tour title.

A closing 72, with a somewhat fortuitous par on the last hole at Royal Fremantle proved just enough for Becker to avoid a playoff and claim victory at 19-under 269 on Sunday.

But only after defending champion Hopewell, playing on his home course, gave the 29-year-old Becker the fight of his life.

A day after his course record 63, Hopewell erased Becker’s four-shot overnight advantage with five birdies in 13 holes and they were level when playing the last hole after Becker bogeyed the 17th.

In an extraordinary turn of events at the par 5 18th, Becker’s fourth shot with a wedge bounced off playing partner Nathan Barbieri’s ball and finished a foot from the hole for a tap-in when it could have been much worse.

Twenty-year-old Hopewell’s magnificent charge then came undone as he three-putted from long range for bogey on a closing hole where he had made eagle the previous day.

He had to be content with a final round four-under 68.

“I’ve never seen that happen to anyone,” said Becker. “Normally it hits that ball and goes off the green.

“To help me out like that I think it was a bit of payback for a couple of things that happened earlier.”

Becker, who works in the pro shop at Mandurah Country Club, collected $27,000 and a two-year exemption on the Australasian tour for his maiden win.

I’m in shock,” said Becker. “I’m still shaking. I hit a lot of good shots and I hit some terrible ones and I got punished for them, and I just scraped through.

“It’s a really good feeling, knowing I’ve got somewhere to play for a couple of years, it’s awesome, but it also gives me the confidence and the dollars to go and push somewhere else, whether it’s DP World Tour or Korn Ferry.”

NSW’s Nathan Barbieri started the final round as Becker’s closest challenger but had to settle for third, one shot behind Hopewell after a 70.

Sydney schoolboy Jeff Guan, 17, capped an impressive week by finishing tied sixth after a 73, one shot behind NSW’s Josh Armstrong, who matched the course record with a 63 and tied fourth at 15-under with WA’s Oliver Goss (66).

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