Date: December 16, 2008
Author: Steve Orme at Royal Sydney

Clark snatches victory

South Africa&aposs Tim Clark has claimed the 2008 Australian Open defeating Mathew Goggin on the first hole of a dramatic sudden-death playoff at Royal Sydney GC. Having sizzled around the windswept layout in 67 strokes to force a playoff, Clark claimed the Stonehaven Cup with a miraculous sand-save on the first extra hole forcing Goggin to make a testing one-metre putt to stay alive. But Goggin&aposs par-saving effort was unsuccessful leaving the Tasmanian to settle for runner-up honours for the second-straight week. Earlier, overnight leader David Smail appeared in cruise control leading by three shots late in the day before consecutive double bogeys derailed his campaign and opened the door for Goggin and Clark. The trouble started with a wayward tee shot at the par-four 15th, and when he again found the trees at 16 forcing him to chip out into the fairway his chances of victory quickly faded. Clark blistered around the course in regulation play bagging seven birdies in his opening 13 holes but his campaign appeared over when he dropped three shots in consecutive holes starting with a double bogey from the greenside bunker at the 13th. But the classy 32-year-old steadied, posting two closing birdies to set a competitive nine-under total. Goggin, who finished runner-up in last week&aposs Australian PGA Championship, went almost unnoticed for much of the final round but his closing three-under 69 was enough to force extra holes. Robert Allenby finished his round in style with a birdie at the 18th but it wasn&apost enough to force his way into the sudden-death action. Western Australian Stephen Dartnall, who led at the completion of the first and second rounds, also finished a single shot outside a playoff after a solid even-par 72 alongside Smail, who carded a 75. Pre-tournament favourite Geoff Ogilvy saved his best for last having teed off well before the leaders on Sunday carding his first round in the 60s for the week – a four-under 68 – to finish at minus seven overall. Victorian Chris Gaunt fired an even-par 72 to share sixth spot with Ogilvy, veteran Steven Conran who closed with a two-under 70, and Andre Stolz who matched Smail&aposs 75 playing in the final group. Reliable left hander Richard Green finished all alone a further stroke back at six-under after firing an impressive 68 in the trying conditions. First-round leader Ewan Porter signed for a 75 to finish among a group of five players at minus five. Also among those at five-under was Victorian Tim Wood whose roller-coaster round included an eagle on the par-four first along with five birdies, six bogeys and a double bogey. Australian Masters champion Rod Pampling shot a closing 72 to finish at four-under in a share of 16th with American Paul Goydos John Senden, who claimed the Stonehaven Cup in 2006, shot a 71 to finish at three-under for the tournament with Gareth Paddison (72) and Andrew Bonhomme (75). New Zealand&aposs Danny Lee, the sole surviving amateur in the field, closed with a 75 to sit in a share of 24th with Steven Bowditch who followed a third-round 66 with a closing 78. It was also disappointing day for two-time champion Peter Lonard who finished with a 76 to sit in a tie for 46th position.