SYDNEY: Double Major-winner Rory McIlroy won the Australian Open on Sunday with a birdie at the final hole, pipping home favorite Adam Scott, to secure his first tournament victory of 2013.
Scott was leading by a stroke with one hole to play and looked certain to become only the second player ever to capture the Australian “Triple Crown.”
However, the world number two bogeyed the last and McIlroy holed a birdie putt to win by a shot with 18 under par at the Royal Sydney course.
Scott said he misjudged the wind and took too much club on the last, blowing his bid to add a home Open title to his victories at the Australian PGA Championship and Australian Masters.
“I am gutted, I felt like I never had a better chance to win the Australian Open,” Scott said after his defeat.
“It was going to be a tough day, Rory made his move and I just couldn’t get my putts in.”
The US Masters champion’s error on the final shot in front of a stunned crowd opened the door for McIlroy, who said the Australian “gave me a couple of lifelines and I was able to take advantage of that on the last.”
“Adam congratulated me on the green. It was hard not to feel some guilt in the way that I won it,” he said, adding that he never lost belief despite struggling for consistency.
“To be able to play your best golf when you need to, when you’re under pressure, you can’t ask for more,” said McIlroy.
“The perfect scenario was to achieve a win before the end of the season and thankfully I have done that.”
Scott started Sunday’s final round with a comfortable four-shot lead over second-placed McIlroy, but an eagle on seven closed the gap and the Northern Irishman drew level with a birdie on the eighth.
Scott edged ahead again, but said he “slightly misread a few” shots towards the end, handing McIlroy victory in his first Australian Open in seven years.