McIlroy overhauls Scott on last to end title wait
RORY McIlroy claimed his first title of the year at the Australian Open by a single shot today after home favourite Adam Scott bogeyed the final hole to lose a tournament he had dominated since the opening day.
McIlroy, who swallowed up Scott's four-shot overnight lead in the first eight holes, nervelessly sank a 10-foot birdie putt at the 18th to finish on 18-under-par for the tournament with a final round seven-under 66.
Scott, who was seeking a rare "triple crown" of Australian titles after winning the PGA and Masters titles last month, missed a string of chances over the back nine to extend his lead and had just the single-shot advantage going into the 72nd hole of the tournament.
After firing his approach shot over the back of the green, the world number two overcooked his chip and sent the ball racing back past the hole before coming up short with a 40-foot par putt to give McIlroy a chance he grasped with both hands.
"I felt a bit sorry that I was the one that ruined the triple crown for him but I'm very happy," said McIlroy, who was facing a first winless season since 2008.
"I've been building confidence for a few weeks now. When I went to Asia I started to play really well.
"I've worked hard, I've put the hours in and I've practised hard and finally it's turned around for me."
In what looked more like a matchplay contest, the pair played together over the final two rounds in front of packed galleries at the Royal Sydney Golf Course but the Northern Irishman never led the U.S. Masters champion until the final stroke of the tournament.
Scott, who had led from the first day of the tournament when he smashed the course record with a 10-under 62, finished with a 71 for second place on 17-under, six clear of compatriot John Senden (66) in third.
He started the day with a three-putt bogey at the first but reclaimed the shot when he smashed a superb second shot from the fairway with a wood to set up a birdie at the second.
McIlroy missed a birdie putt at the third but took a stroke out of Scott's lead at the fifth when a sublime approach shot set him up for a birdie.
Another long and accurate iron shot at the par-five seventh gave him an eagle and when Scott missed a four-foot birdie putt, the lead was reduced to just one stroke.
McIlroy drew level when he sank a six-foot putt to pick up a shot at the eighth before Scott lipped out with his shorter birdie putt at the same hole.
The roles were reversed at the ninth, where McIlroy missed his birdie putt by less than an inch while Scott drained a six-footer to reach the turn a shot in front at 17-under.
The pair parred the next four holes and both had eagle chances at the 13th, with Scott coming closest when his first putt shaved the cup before tapping in to match McIlroy's birdie.
Scott had another chance to go two ahead after McIlroy found a bunker at the par-five 16th but the Australian three-putted from the front of the green to match the Northern Irishman's par.
Scott wasted another opportunity to pad his advantage to a couple of shots at the par-three 17th when he lipped out again following a brilliant tee shot, leaving McIlroy to take full advantage in a dramatic conclusion to an absorbing contest.
Nick Mulvenney, Reuters