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Abraham answers all the questions at Australian Open

Abraham Ancer poses with the Stonehaven Cup. (Photo: Henry Peters)
Mexico's Abraham Ancer is the 2018 Emirates Australian Open Champion.

The 27-year-old's five-shot 54-hole lead was never really threatened as he cruised to a comfortable win in Australia's flagship event at the Lakes Golf Club in Sydney, securing his second win as a pro and earning a start at next year's Open Championship.

Ancer settled any nerves he may have carried into the final round when holing a pitch shot from just short of the green after misreading the wind at the par 4 4th.

He played his 3rd shot beautifully, however, pitching past the front flag position from 10 metres short of the green, the ball feeding back into the hole off the slope behind the hole. It was a deliberate play and further highlighted the skills he possesses. 

Further birdies then followed at the 8th and 9th and by then he was 16 under par and despite the potential disasters waiting to happen on the closing nine it appeared the title was his for the taking. His nearest challenger at that point, Dimitrios Papadatos was seven shots behind and it would take a massive reversal for the the title to go anywhere other than Mexico. 

Ancer would bogey the uphill 12th but then picked up the near obligatory birdie at the 14th and was six ahead as Papadatos, last week's New South Wales Open winner, Jake McLeod, Australian Amateur Champion, Keita Nakajima from Japan, and Victorian, Marcus Fraser, were not only in a  race for second place but were locked in a battle for one of the three places available in next year's Open Championship field.

The leading three placegetters not otherwise exempt for The Open would qualify to play at Royal Portrush next July, providing a significant carrot in addition to a healthy cheque for this week's event.   

Ancer seemingly had one of those places locked up but the opportunity for a start in a major championship for the likes of Papadatos, Fraser and McLeod was a huge incentive to finish strongly and it would be Papadatos and McLeod who would receive the remaining two places and the chance to play in their very first major championship.

Ancer though eventually won by five over Papdatos with McLeod another shot back in third place on his own.

For the 27 year old it is just his second victory on a recognised tour after a Web.Com Tour victory in 2015 and will move him inside the top 60 in the projected rankings to be finalised tomorrow following the completion of the PGA Tour event in the US. It continues a year of progress where he has now moved some 210 positions in the rankings since the end of 2017.

"I'm on cloud nine right now," was the champions first response when asked to describe his feelings. "It's been just a phenomenal week.  It's felt like a short week because I got here on Wednesday, Wednesday morning, when I normally get to tournaments on Mondays.

"It's been absolutely phenomenal.  My first time in Australia.  Everybody told me how great it was and I mean, I'm truly, truly ‑‑ I love this country already, only being four days that I've been here, or five days.  Everybody has been tremendously supportive, really nice to me this week, and I felt right at home.

"I did a little bit of research and the names on this cup are incredible - obviously Jack Nicklaus but more recently McIlroy and Spieth and Baddeley a lot of the names are extermely recognised in the world of golf and I am really happy that my name is going to be there now." 

The win gives Ancer a start at the Open Championship although it will be his second Open Championship and second major appearance having played at Carnoustie earlier this year.

"My approach today was the same as it had been all week. I did nothing different off the tee and the chip in was a lot of fun. I spend a lot of time on chips like that and it worked out perfectly." he added referring to the chip in on the 4th.

Papadatos watches his tee shot at the par 3 9th.

Dimi Papadatos not only finished 2nd outright but now has a start at the 2019 Open Championship.

Three weeks ago Papadatos was disqualified for using a club bent in anger during the opening round of the final event of the European Challenge Tour when needing a top five finish to secure a European Tour card for 2019.

He made the decision almost immediately to not attend the final stage of qualifying for the European Tour, figuring he might have enough status to get to play a few events. His finish this week and the benefits it provides will no doubt make up for any second thoughts he might have had on that decision. 

"You know, I just figured like if I'm good enough, I'll get there eventually," said Papadatos. "It's been unfortunate what happened a few weeks ago, but just got to put that past me.  I figure if I'm not here next year or the year after, just keep plugging away and hopefully ‑‑ and if not, I'll see what happens."

Jake McLeod not only has his biggest cheque but a start at the Open Championship.

Jake McLeod finished alone in 3rd place and earns a start at the Open Championship.

McLeod was unaware of the Open Championship start until being formed after his round and clearly he was delighted.

"To be honest, I had forgotten that it was a British Open qualifier, so pretty happy I played pretty well."

McLeod adds this finish to his breakthrough win at the NSW Open in Sydney's west last week and so it has been a fortnight to remember for the Queenslander.

"Yeah, definitely. Last week to get my first win and then to sort of kind of in contention, kind of not in our national Open, I was pretty excited about that.  To have a good last round like that felt really good."

McLeod's cheque for A$84,000 is by far the biggest of his career to date and the momentum he is building of late augurs well for his future in the paid ranks.

The winner of the concurrent Australian All Abilities Championship was the Swedish golfer Johan Kammerstad who finished ten shots of Ireland's Brendan Lawlor. 

Sweden's Johan Kammerstad won the Australian All Abilities title.

The leading amateur medal was jointly shared by Victorian David Micheluzzi and Japan's Keita Nakajima who tied for 5th place in the overall standings. They had also finished one and two at the Australian Amateur Championship earlier this year, Nakajima taking that title.

The 2019 Australian Open Championship at the adjacent Australian Golf Club has been set down for December 5th to 8th to coincide with and benefit from the Presidents Cup which will be played in Melbourne, the following week.   

 

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