Date: November 26, 2006
Author: Ben Wise

Rose wins, Pike shines

By Ben Wise at Huntigdale, Sportal Justin Rose has taken out the co-sanctioned $1.5 million MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale on Sunday, while Golf Australia national squad member Aaron Pike has capped off a great tournament by finishing fourth. Rose signed for a final-round 73 to be 12-under overall and claim the $270,000 first prize, but he had to deal with making a disastrous triple-bogey at the par-five seventh and hold off a stern last-round challenge from a pack of Australians, including tournament surprise-packet Pike. The amateur provided the day&aposs highlight by holing a bunker shot for eagle on 14 which jumped him into a share of the lead at the time at 11-under. Pike said after his round that the effort will hold him in good stead for the future, but will hold off on turning pro for now. “There are a lot of things to take away,” Pike said. “I was tied for the lead with three or four holes to play, which was good.” “I think the experience is what you can take away. You can&apost get it anywhere else except being in this situation.” “(But) I&aposm not good enough to win so I don&apost think I am good enough to be professional,” he added modestly. Rose – who had earlier climbed to 14-under after picking up a shot on the sixth – answered Pike&aposs eagle with birdies on the 555-metre par-five 14th and par-four 16th, and despite bogeying 15, held on for his first European Tour victory since the 2002 British Masters. “It was a roller-coaster. I was really pleased though that my emotions didn&apost roller-coaster,” said Rose, who now jumps to fifth on the European Tour order of merit. “I stayed very calm, even when I made triple on the seventh I said &aposwell you are tied for the lead, game on' and it was awesome to bounce back with a birdie on the eighth.” “It was a really tough golf course today.” Richard Green, the 2004 champion, carded a closing 69 to finish at 10-under, equal-second with Greg Chalmers who sunk a monster birdie-putt on the last for a round of 73. Chalmers had earlier shared the lead when he was 11-under after eight holes, but an inexplicable five-putt on the ninth green shattered the Western Australian&aposs confidence and winning chance. Green was hopeful he could win when he posted an early leading score in the clubhouse on day where the course – which had been dominated for most of the week – bit back at the players. “The course played very difficult,” Green said. “The pin placements were very tough and the firmness of the greens was very difficult as well. “(When I was waiting in the clubhouse) I knew that 16 was playing very difficult and 17 and 18 anything can happen. All credit to Justin for hanging on.” Rose was aware of the challenge he faced in the final three holes, and was thrilled to have finished so strongly. “When Richard Green had posted 10-under, the last three holes had been bad to me all week,” Rose said. “I bogeyed all three of them on Thursday, one of them on Friday, one on Saturday and I felt like I wanted a lead coming into those holes, so to play the last three in one-under was the reason I won the tournament.” Pike made an untimely three-putt bogey on 17, the fourth round&aposs third-hardest hole, and then suffered the embarrassment of sending his 50-foot birdie putt on the final hole into a greenside bunker, the ensuing bogey dropping him into outright fourth at nine-under. Earlier, Aaron Baddeley staked his claims for a first gold jacket by making birdies at 10, 12 and 14 to get it to nine-under, but after lipping out his putt for birdie on the 17th, the Victorian sealed his own fate by bogeying the last to finish fifth. Big-hitting New South Welshman Kurt Barnes ended his MasterCard Masters in good fashion, firing a 70 to claim sixth place. US-based Tasmanian Mathew Goggin signed for the low round of the day (67) to wind up in a tie for eighth with Englishman Simon Khan (73) and Victorian Jarrod Lyle, who used to play his amateur golf at nearby Commonwealth Golf Club. Australian Matthew Millar&aposs closing 70 moved resulted in him sharing 11th-place with 1997 and 2002 champion Peter Lonard (75), Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin (78) and leftie Adam Bland (74). Australian Open champion John Senden, who started his bid for consecutive tournament victories in fine style with opening rounds of 68 and 69, closed with a 73 to finish at four-under alongside Nick O&aposHern (74) and Peter O&aposMalley (74). World No.15 and tournament drawcard Paul Casey double-bogeyed the first on his way to a final-round 77, while Robert Allenby had a disappointing end to his title defence, the Victorian making a double-bogey on the 18th in a round of 76 – even-par for the championship. Pre-tournament favourite Stuart Appleby also carded a 76 on Sunday to finish plus four overall. Earlier, world No.69 Rose birdied the sixth – to make him 12-under on par-fives for the week at that point – to set up a three-stroke lead over Chalmers. But after finding the bunker from the tee on seven, he then caught the lip and his ball speared into the tee-tree. A subsequent unplayable lie, chip-out and three-putt on the green, left the Englishman reeling before Chalmers&aposs mishap at nine, however, Rose recovered immediately by picking up a shot at the eighth before his steely back-nine efforts. Pike, who most experts expected to fold at some point under the pressure of playing in the second-last group on the final day of one of Australasia&aposs most esteemed tournaments, can hold his head high after an amazing week which started with a course record-equalling 64 on Thursday. The 21-year-old, whose mother had $5 on him to win at odds of 1000/1 prior to the tournament, settled for the leading amateur title and vindicated his decision to choose golf over cricket when he was 16 in the Northern Territory. Final leaderboard of the MasterCard Masters at Huntingdale (Australian unless stated) -12: Justin Rose (England) 69 66 68 73 -10: Richard Green 70 71 68 69, Greg Chalmers 70 67 68 73. -9: Aaron Pike 64 69 72 74 -8: Aaron Baddeley 68 71 70 71 -7: Kurt Barnes 70 66 75 70 -6: Matthew Goggin 74 70 71 67, Jarrod Lyle 72 69 69 72, Simon Khan (England) 71 66 72 73 -5: Matthew Millar 76 69 68 70, Adam Bland 72 70 67 74, Peter Lonard 68 71 69 75, Raphael Jacquelin (France) 66 72 67 78 -4: John Senden 69 68 74 73, Nick O&aposHern 73 68 69 74, Peter O&aposMalley 74 68 68 74 -3: Jarrod Moseley 73 70 71 71, Nathan Green 73 67 71 74, Craig Parry 68 72 69 76, Paul Casey (England) 71 70 67 77 -2: Daniel Chopra (Sweden) 75 69 72 70, Andrew Tschudin 71 73 70 72, Peter Wilson 65 74 72 75, Peter Senior 72 70 67 77 -1: Rafael Cabrera Bello (Spain), 74 71 70 72, Brendan Chant 75 68 71 73, Brad Kennedy 74 70 70 73, Damien McGrane (Ireland) 76 67 69 75, Jarmo Sandelin (Sweden) 71 73 68 75, Gary Simpson 75 65 71 76, Andrew Butterfield 70 70 70 77 Even: Jason Norris 74 71 73 70, Wade Ormsby 74 71 70 73, Gavin Coles 71 73 70 74, Steven Bowditch 68 69 75 76, Robert Allenby 69 71 72 76, Tony Carolan 68 96 72 79, Marcus Fraser 74 69 66 79