Former world No.1 Rory McIlroy stole the Emirates Australian Open at Royal Sydney by one shot, simultaneously putting an end to Adam Scott’s bid to seal the ‘Triple Crown.’
Scott, who had won the Australian PGA presented by Coca-Cola and the Talisker Masters, headed into the final round of the Open with a four shot lead, but McIlroy evaporated that in the outward nine and fired a final round six-under par 66 score his first victory of the year.
The dramatic last day went down to the 18th hole, where Scott blundered when he overshot the green with his approach shot, then chipped back well past the hole and took two putts for a bogey.
A play-off was still a possibility but McIlroy steadied and sunk a five metre birdie putt to clinch victory.
The 24-year-old Northern Irishman said later he felt a little ‘guilty’ after whipping the Stonehaven Cup from under Scott’s nose, but was always confident he could hunt down the Queenslander, despite starting with a four shot deficit.
"I didn’t think it was going to unfold the way it did standing on the 18th tee," McIlroy said.
"I think Adam got a hard bounce with his second shot … I knew his chip was tricky and I knew worst-case scenario I’d have a putt for a play-off and then all of a sudden I had a putt for the win and I didn’t want to go extra holes.
"All I focused on in the putt was my routine. I didn’t do anything differently, didn’t think about whether it was to win the Australian Open or whether it was to get the first win this year.
"I hit it inside-right and I hit a putt like I hit on the putting green any other day, and thankfully it went in.
"It’s hard not to feel some sort of guilt the way I won it but I always believed I could win."
The dual major champion said that while he believed his game was returning to form it was a relief to win.
"I always said I just wanted to build some momentum for next year and I felt like I was doing that," he said.
"The perfect scenario would have been a win before the end of the season and thankfully I was able to do that."
Scott’s usually reliable putter was the culprit on Sunday as he watched five putts lip out leaving him with a 71 – he needed 35 putts for the round, seven more than McIlroy.
"I felt I did everything right. I was concerned how I was going to hit it today because I haven’t been swinging the club very good for the last two weeks and I played really nice but the putter didn’t behave itself but that’s the way golf is," Scott said.
"I’m gutted, I felt I’d never have a better chance to win the Aussie Open.
"I just slightly misjudged a few putts, overplayed the break, missed a lot of putts on the high side and didn’t quite have the eye in – and it always gets a lot trickier on the Sunday."
The 2006 Australian Open champion John Senden carded the equal low round of the day, a six-under 66, to finish in outright third at 11 under and qualify for the 2014 British Open.
New South Welshman Rhein Gibson and Victorian Bryden Macpherson – the former British Amateur Champion – both fired three-under 69s to finish in a share of fourth at nine under the card and also won spots in next year’s British Open.
World Cup individual winner Jason Day posted a two-under 70 to finish eight under par alongside New Zealander Mark Brown (69) and Matt Jones (72).
Nathan Holman finished a shot further back after an even-par 72, one clear of four players including fellow Victorian Ashley Hall (72).
Brady Watt won the amateur medal with a closing 72 to finish among a cluster of players at five under.
Fifteen-year-old Victorian sensation Ryan Ruffels finished with a one-over par 73 to be second in the amateur race and take a share of 24th at three under overall.
Former Open winners, Victorians Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddeley, both closed with one-over 73s to finish the tournament at two under.
By: Robert Grant