McIlroy overhauls Scott on last to end title wait

Sun Dec 1, 2013 2:37am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy claimed his first title of the year at the Australian Open by a single shot on Sunday 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, missed a string of chances over the back nine to extend his lead and held just a single-shot advantage heading to the 72nd hole.

After firing his approach 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.

"It's hard not to feel some sort of guilt in the way that I won it," said two-times major champion McIlroy, who had been facing a first winless season since 2008.

"It's been a frustrating year but I've worked hard and it's been a process, trying to get back to winning golf tournaments, and it was nice to do that today."

In what emerged as a virtual matchplay contest, the pair played together over the final two rounds in front of packed galleries bathed in sunshine at the Royal Sydney Golf Club.

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 John Senden (66) in third.   Continued...

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy leans on his putter on the eighth hole during the second round of the Australian Open golf tournament at Royal Sydney Golf Club November 29, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray