Scott masters Poulter to claim Melbourne victory

Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:24am EST
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Local favorite Adam Scott cruised to a four-stroke victory in the $1 million Australian Masters on Sunday as Ian Poulter's title defense fizzled out with a bogey-strewn back nine at Melbourne's Kingston Heath Golf Club.

The world number five Scott showed great composure on a windy day to shoot five-under 67 for a 17-under total of 271 and clinch his first tournament win OF the year after a frustrating season of near-misses.

"To have it out with a world-class player and come out on top is very satisfying," the 32-year-old Scott told reporters, donning the winner's 'Gold Jacket', a nod to the more salubrious green-colored one handed to victors at Augusta.

"Probably it's the only week of the year... where I've put four really solid rounds together and the result shows, so I'm really, really happy with what I was able to do this week and especially today."

With daylight separating Poulter and Scott from the rest of the field, the final round was reduced to a match-play battle, and the Australian raised the pressure on his playing partner with a pair of birdies in his opening holes to snatch the lead.

But any hopes of a repeat of Saturday's thrilling shootout, when they plundered the famed sandbelt course for 17 birdies, were extinguished early in the back nine when Poulter made a hash of the par-fives at 12 and 14.

The Englishman found a fairway trap and then a greenside bunker to bogey the 12th, then overcooked an approach shot two holes later to slip three strokes back with four to play.

The Ryder Cup hero clawed a stroke back with a birdie on the sixteenth to pull within two but was kicking himself after he missed a two-foot tap-in when reaching over Scott's line.   Continued...