Two-time major champion Jordan Spieth won the Australian Open for the second time in three years after defeating Ashley Hall and Cameron Smith in a sudden-death playoff in Sydney on Sunday.
Spieth won at the first playoff hole with a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th green at Royal Sydney Golf Club as Hall was unable to convert from eight feet to extend the playoff.
The world number five shot a final round three-under-par 69 to join clubhouse leaders Hall and Smith at 12-under-par, needing a par putt from seven feet on the 72nd hole to get into the playoff.
Smith — who shot a final round 66 — missed a 40-foot birdie putt in the playoff.
Hall, the world number 902, made eight birdies on Sunday to card a 66, but could only make par at the playoff hole.
“We made the putts at the very end that mattered,? American former world number one Spieth said.
“I had a chance last year on 18 (to force a playoff) and didn’t hit a great putt and this time I had that same chance with a very similar putt in the playoff and capitalised so I drew back on that a little.
“I didn’t have much confidence in my swing on the last couple of holes today in regulation and was able to calm down in-between.”
The 2015 US Masters and US Open champion carded six birdies and three bogeys in his final round and moved to 12-under when he holed a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-five 16th.
Spieth’s victory is his first since May and comes two years after his scintillating final round 63 at The Australian Golf Club in 2014 which gave him his first Australian Open victory by six shots.
– ‘Important’ event –
“The way we played the playoff, I think it’s going to do wonders for me,” Spieth said. “I’d been in a little bit of a stall hitting shots when they mattered.
“I’ve cut out a lot of overseas travel this year but we still came here because that’s how important this event is to us.”
Hall and Smith both secured starts in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale, while the third spot in golf’s oldest major went to fellow countryman Jason Scrivener.
He finished at 10-under in a tie for fourth with Australians Rod Pampling, Aaron Baddeley and Geoff Ogilvy, and New Zealander Ryan Fox.
Ogilvy — who carried a two-shot lead into the final round — led for most of the day and was spurred on by a chip-in eagle at the par-five seventh.
But the 39-year-old’s quest for a second Australian Open title fell flat with a double bogey at the par-five 16th as he slumped to a final round one-over 73.
Local favourite Adam Scott started Sunday four shots off the pace but the 2013 US Masters champion fired a one-over 73 to drop into a tie for 14th at six-under.
Low amateur honours went to reigning US Amateur and Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, 20-year-old Australian Curtis Luck, who finished tied 11th at seven-under after a final round 69.
© 2016 AFP
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