McIlroy claims Australian Open title on final hole

Rory McIlroy captured his first full tournament win this season after Adam Scott virtually handed Australian Open victory to the Northern Irishman.

McIlroy, 24 became only the second European winner of the event after Scott, who was leading by a shot with a hole to play, dramatically bogeyed the last.

Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy, winner of the 2013 Australian Open at Royal Sydney (Credit: Anthony Powter)

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Moments later McIlroy walked up to hole a 16-foot birdie in a final day six under par 66 to win with an 18-under par tally while Scott let slip victory and the Australian Triple Crown with a 71 for a 17-under par total at Royal Sydney.

“I am just really pleased, really pleased to win the Australian Open and while I am sorry to ruin Scotty’s chance at winning the Triple Crown, I have just felt since September in a better place mentally these past few weeks with some things off the course,” McIlroy said.

“Overall I just felt everything was coming together the way I wanted it to. It’s been a frustrating year but I’ve worked hard and it’s been a process of trying to get back to winning golf tournaments again and it was nice to do that this week.

“But it was one of those days when I knew I had to do something pretty special to try and catch ‘Scotty’ as he was playing very solid.

“I just managed to get off to a faster start than him to be four under par through eight holes and got to within one of him but then he held on really well up until the last.

“So it was just pity it ended up the way it did but then he had chances to get clear of me at 16 and 17, and I actually thought I had blown my chances on 16 by not making a birdie there.

“I just stay patient knowing that anything could happen on this golf course as we saw what Adam did there on 18 so I was just lucky to make that birdie putt there at the end.”

The win is McIlroy’s 11th worldwide and only his second outside of the European and PGA Tour’s with the Northern Irishman earning a first prize cheque for $AUD 225,000.

He did win last month against Tiger Woods in their Match at Mission Hills but this is his first full tournament success since capturing last year’s European Tour season ending Race to Dubai event.

McIlroy went into the final round trailing four shot behind Scott but managed to get within one of the Masters champion when he holed a six-foot putt for eagle at the seventh hole.

However Scott maintained the lead right up to the final hole.

Scott’s second shot into the last ran through the green from where his third ran a good 20 feet past the flag stick from where he two putted for the second bogey of his round after dropping a shot at the first.

“I am disappointed to make that error up the last and open the door for Rory,” said Scott.

“I was trying to keep the door closed all day but nothing was going my way on the greens today. I could have put this thing away early on if the putter behaving how it should have.”

In fact, after taking 23 putts in setting a new Royal Sydney course record of 62 on day one, Scott had 35 putts over the last round.

Scott arrived back to Australia as the first Australian-born winner of the Masters and after capturing the Australian PGA Championship and successfully defending his Australian Masters title he needed victory in the Australian Open to match the ‘Triple Crown’ winning effort in 2005 of fellow Australian Robert Allenby.

His one consolation in the week was capturing a second Australasian Tour No. 1 title after nearest rival, Melbourne-based Korean Jin Jeong missed the halfway cut.

Scott will now take a well-earned break ahead of his next event and the PGA Tour’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii.

Australia’s John Senden, and former 2006 Australian Open winner, shot a last day 66 to grab third place on 11-under par.

As well, Senden secured one of three 2014 (British) Open Championship qualifying spots on offer this week in the first of a revised qualifying system into golf’s oldest Major.

It will Senden’s eighth appearance in the (British) Open Championship and his second at Royal Liverpool after finishing T35th behind Tiger Woods in 2006.

“It’s a good positive note to end my season with a strong last round to also qualify for next year’s Open,” said Senden.

“I managed to qualify for the 2006 Open and I’m delighted that was play was good enough this week to be able to tee up there again.”

Joining Senden at next year’s (British) Open Championship will be fellow Australian’s Bryden Macpherson (69) and Rhein Gibson (69) who shared fourth place at nine under par.

Australian Brady Watt finished the leading amateur with the 23-year old Perth player, and reigning Australian Amateur Stroke-Play champion, ending in a share of 16th place at five under par.