Adam Scott has today secured his long awaited first victory in Australia and a significant one at that, taking out the Australian Open by a massive five shots over Stuart Appleby with a further four shots back to the third placed Nick O'Hern, Bryce Molder and Michael Long.
Starting the day with a two shot lead in the breezy, fine conditions, things took an early turn for Scott when he bogeyed the first and when Appleby made birdie the pair were tied at 14 under.
It did not take long for Scott to reassert his ascendency. By the turn, he would benefit from his own impressive play and the struggles of Stuart Appleby and as the pair headed to the 10th tee Scott led by four.
If there was any question as to whether Scott could finally win his first event in Australia it was probably put to bed when he holed from 25 feet at the 10th and when Appleby bogeyed, that margin had very quickly become six.
Not that Appleby was about to lie down. Although he frustratingly dropped a shot at the par five 12th, he claimed it back with a birdie at the 14th and when Scott bogeyed that same hole the difference was four.
Scott holed a very important putt at the 15th when he got up and down from the greenside bunker to maintain the margin.
With a four shot lead with three holes to play there appeared little likelihood of Scott capitulating but at the very next hole a chink appeared that could potentially have cost him the tournament.
Scott missed a very short putt and the margin was three. Still comfortable admittedly but the momentum seemed to be shifting in the favour of Appleby
Ironically just when it appeared as if it was Scott feeling the most of the pressure it would be Appleby who would falter. He needed a solid tee shot at the exposed par three 17th to lay down the gauntlet to Scott but missed the green. It made Scott's shot just that much easier and when he failed to get up and down, Appleby was once again four behind and a bridge too far it would seem.
There is little doubt that Appleby had the worst of the conditions on the opening two days but nothing could be taken away from Scott over the final two days. He started the final 36 holes two behind Appleby and finished five ahead.
15 under par was not a winning score many were even daring to mention early in the week but that is an indication of how well the Queenslander played.
"This feels very good," said Scott. "The National champion - I am very proud. What a week it was very tough. I've been close down here a few times but have never got over the line so that makes this special along with the fact that this is the Australian Open."
"I didn't allow myself to think about a winning score at the start of the week but I think both Stewie (Appleby) and I played a pretty high level of golf this week."
"I think I have remained positive through the down times. After the Presidents Cup I told myself that the Singapore Open, the Australian Masters, Dubai, here and the PGA were the events I was going to peak for. What a week for it all to come together," said Scott, referring to his tough times this year.
"I had to stop my mind from wandering out there today with the thought of winning. I said to myself on the 12th that I figured I could handle a seven shot lead with seven to play but then put that to the side and knuckled down again."
"Today was closer than I might have looked and with so many tough holes coming in then I had to keep going."
The venue needs to also be recognised. That every one of the leading ten players in the event is either a PGA Tour player or, in the case of Cameron Percy, about to be, tells the story of a golf course which produced a champion winner and a quality leaderboard. New South Wales Golf Club overcame the issues surrounding its accessibility and the dramas of Friday morning's play suspension to prove a winner itself in its first Australian Open staging.
As to the golf course, well runner-up Stuart Appleby perhaps summed it up best.
"This is world class. If anyone was to say ho-hum about this I'd be slapping them in the face."
Appleby was philosophical about the day.
"The first two days I played some of the purest golf I have played but these last two days things evened out. Adam kept chipping away and played great."
"This is an exciting golf course and an exciting tournament. The guy who wins around here is the guy who befriends the golf course. The wind was a tough opponent."
"I've got a lot to look forward to after this week however that's for sure," added Appleby referring to his ongoing form reversal."
Adam Scott is the Australian Open Champion and has reversed a horrible year in the nicest way by becoming the golfing champion of his country. The win will move Scott back inside the top 50 in the world and as a result will ensure that he has a start at Augusta next April.
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About The Author : Bruce Young
A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.
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