Date: May 20, 2014

Grant Report – Scott takes top spot; Aussies take titles

As Adam Scott quietly assumed the world No.1 spot from Tiger Woods without hitting a shot, Australians around the globe were celebrating success.

In Manila, Victorian Marcus Both shelved thoughts of quitting the game after winning the ICTSI Philippine Open, New South Welshman Brett Drewitt claimed the Wuhan Open in China and Marc Leishman bounced back to top form with a share of third in the Byron Nelson Championship in Texas.

On the European Tour, Victorian Richard Green and Belgian Thomas Pieters lost out in a play-off for the Spanish Open to 50-year-old home-town hope Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Green was on track for victory before a serious stumble at the 14th left him with a triple bogey seven. At the first play-off hole Jiminez was the only player to make par and won his home title for the first time.

But Green was in an upbeat mood afterwards.

"I have to take a lot of positives out of it, it’s the best I’ve played since the French Open," Green said. "I played well in the Australian Open over Christmas, just unfortunately struggling to get the job done. I couldn’t count how many times I have run second on The European Tour.

"It’s just a shame that when the heat of the battle comes along a bit of misfortune happens every now and again.

"The 14th hole cost me big time and I played pretty solid from that point in and probably should have won the tournament by two shots if that had just been a par."

While Scott became the first Australian since Greg Norman’s long reign at the top in the 1980s and 1990s to become the world’s leading player, Marcus Both’s story is one of emotion and of triumph over despair.

Last year he was seriously considering giving up after losing his Asian Tour card for the first time since 2003.

But his career has received a reboot following his victory at the $US300,000 tournament on Sunday, where he tasted success with a total of six-under-par 282 ahead of a group tied at second two shots back.

Australian rookie Nathan Holman, EurAsia Cup star Siddikur Rahman of Bangladesh, Thailand’s Arnond Vongvanij  and home heroes Antonio Lascuna and Jay Bayron all came home on 284 at the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club.

Both was close to tears after winning his third Asian Tour title and ending a five-year title drought on the region’s premier Tour, where he had been recently forced to rely on sponsor invitations to play.

“It was an emotional year on and off the golf course after I lost my Tour card," Both said. "I had to return to Qualifying School earlier this year and I missed the cut by one shot. It was so bad that I even thought of quitting the game,” said the 34-year-old, who won US$54,000.

“Words can’t describe how it feels from being an invite to a winner this week. I have to thank ICTSI and the Asian Tour for giving me the invite. To come away with the trophy is amazing. I’m a bit lost for words."

He bogeyed the final two holes but had prepared himself for the win with a front nine 34, a six metre birdie putt on the 15th and a short birdie on 16 to take a three-shot lead.

“I didn’t let off in the last two holes. I gave it full commitments there. Strange things have happen in golf and I’ve seen people hole second shots on the last to win. You just have to hope that it doesn’t happen to you."

In China Drewitt found himself in an unexpected play-off as he watched his playing partner Xin Jun Zhang blow a one shot lead by three putting at the 18th green.

In the following play-off the Australian seized the tournament with a birdie putt on the second hole. The victory was Drewitt’s first since he turned pro last year.

“It’s a great stepping stone to where I want to be," Drewitt said. "I want to get to the US and this tour has 12 tournaments that I can play this year that will get me to where I want to be if I play well enough."

Leishman, meanwhile, continued his recent good form in Texas, where he said he enjoyed the windy conditions, similar to those he grew up with in his home town of Warrnambool.

He finished third in this event two years ago and in 2008 the Victorian set a record on the then Nationwide Tour when winning the WNB Golf Classic in Midland in Texas by a massive 11 shots.

Leishman banks a $US400,000 cheque and moves to the verge of the Tour top 60 and a place in the US Open field. If he can continue his form at this week’s Crown Plaza Colonial Invitational and the Memorial, both of which he has played well before, he is certain to line up in the US national championship.

The Byron Nelson was won by Brendon Todd, who took his maiden victory on the PGA Tour although he has won on the Web.Com Tour in the past. The 28-year-old held off a strong challenge from a resurgent Canadian Mike Weir who, after injury and confidence issues, was chasing his first win in nearly seven years and his first top 10 in more than four years.

John Senden was the next best of the Australians after Leishman when he finished tied for 11th.

The PGA Tour now moves to the Colonial at Fort Worth where Adam Scott will make his first appearance as world No.1.

By: Robert Grant