It wasn’t the prettiest finish in the world, but Adam Scott, who just won last week’s Australian PGA, will take the win as he successfully defended his title at the Australian Masters. Scott led the field by five late in the front nine, but managed to let a sizzling Matt Kuchar get ahead of him by a stroke.
Scott made a mess of the par-3 14th and posted a double-bogey. With four holes to play, Kuchar seemed to be in cruise control, two clear of Scott — not so fast!
Kuchar, the no. 8 ranked player in the world, botched two of the last three holes, including a double-bogey on the 72nd, to shoot a three-under 68 and come up just short of a fine come-from-behind win over the local hero.
“I guess today, sometimes you kind of win a little bit ugly,” Scott told reporters after posting a scrappy even-par 71 for a 14-under total.”All of the good stuff I’d done in the first three rounds counted for a lot.
“Even though it wasn’t the prettiest golf today… I got away with it, but I’ll have to learn not to do it next time.”
Scott led by four shots heading into the final round, but had to fend off a red-hot Kuchar. His wobbly back nine brought back memories of the 2012 Open Championship where he bogeyed the last four holes to lose the Claret Jug (he also bogeyed four in a row early on the second nine this past summer at Muirfield).
“I usually like looking at the leaderboard, but it wasn’t enjoyable today,” Scott said of the merry-go-round scoreboard. “I made a lot of errors, but I managed to hang on despite being a little shaky out there…
“It’s hard to win tournaments and, so, just to win that one tournament last year meant a lot. But I think my game has progressed since then. I think it was more a case of just making sure I won that tournament last year rather than letting it slip away and certainly put me on a good path heading into this year.”
Kuchar bogeyed the opening hole of the day, but then birdied five of the next eight. He notched another one on no. 11 and then on no. 15 to take the solo lead for the first time, briefly — before collapsing and playing the last three holes three-over.
“It’s never fun, the 72nd hole, but it can happen any time,” Kuchar said. “I tried on the last hole to stay aggressive and hit a good quality shot and I thought I had.
“The thing about Royal Melbourne is you can really pay the price for just being off if you play aggressively. It’s certainly a rough way to end it but that’s kind of the nature of the game.”
Two-time Leukemia survivor Jarrod Lyle made his comeback to golf after 20 months after beating his battle with the disease (again). He shot solid rounds of 72-71-70 before fatigue caught up to him in the final round that didn’t help on his way to carding a 79. He still finished a respectable T57.
“I played five days in a row, including the pro-am, and the last nine holes I started to feel it,” Lyle said. “I got around, and it’s not the end I wanted. But it’s better than I thought it would be: three good rounds and one shocker, that’s golf.”
Sounds like Lyle hasn’t lost his affable sense of humor.
In the trophy presentation, Scott reminded fans to come out and cheer on Team Australia next week.
“Please come back next week and watch me and Jase [Jason Day],” he said to the crowd. “We’ll win the World Cup.”
Scott will try to complete the “Scotty Slam” at the Australian Open, the third and final leg, starting November 28th.
(AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)