Scott successfully defends title at Aust Masters

Adam Scott made it interesting for a while on a wind-swept
afternoon at Royal Melbourne.

Scott shot a scrambling even-par 71 for a two-shot victory and a
successful defense of his Australian Masters title. It was his
second victory in two weeks in Australia – he won last week’s
Australian PGA – in his first visit back home since his U.S.
Masters title in April.

Scott, who had a four-round total of 14-under 270, will now try
to win the so-called Australian Triple Crown with a victory at the
Australian Open at Royal Sydney in two weeks. First, he’ll partner
Jason Day for Australia at the World Cup beginning Thursday, also
at Royal Melbourne.

He took advantage of American Matt Kuchar’s late collapse
Sunday. Kuchar, who led by two strokes with three to play,
double-bogeyed the 18th after taking two shots to get out of a
bunker and finished second after a 68.

”Sometimes you kind of win a little bit ugly,” Scott said.
”All the good stuff I’d done in the first three rounds counted for
a lot.”

Vijay Singh was third after a 71, four behind Scott. The
50-year-old Fijian veteran was attempting to win his first
tournament since 2008.

Kuchar held a two-stroke lead until Scott birdied the 15th and
the American bogeyed the 16th. A hole earlier, a birdie and Scott’s
double-bogey after a plugged lie in a bunker gave Kuchar his
two-stroke lead.

Scott led by four at the start of the round and by five shots
late on the front nine.

His faltering on the back nine revived memories of the 2012
British Open when he bogeyed the final four holes to lose by a
shot, but this time he came out on top.

”I usually like looking at the leaderboard, but it wasn’t
enjoyable today,” Scott said of the numerous lead changes. ”I
made a lot of errors, but I managed to hang on despite being a
little shaky out there.”

His day got off to an ominous start. His birdie putt from three
feet lipped out while Singh had a tap-in birdie to reduce the lead
to three, but a Singh bogey on the second restored the four-shot
gap.

While Scott and Singh dueled in the final group, Kuchar, who
will team with Kevin Streelman for the United States at the World
Cup, moved up the leaderboard.

The American bogeyed the first hole, but birdies on five of the
next eight holes left him as Scott’s closest pursuer. He birdied
the 11th and then the 15th to take the lead for the first time in
the tournament before his late collapse.

”It’s never fun, the 72nd hole, but it can happen any time,”
Kuchar said. ”I tried on the last hole to stay aggressive and hit
a good quality shot and I thought I had.

”The thing about Royal Melbourne is you can really pay the
price for just being off if you play aggressively. It’s certainly a
rough way to end it but that’s kind of the nature of the
game.”

Jarrod Lyle, playing in his first tournament in 20 months since
his recovery from his second bout of leukemia, finished with an
8-over 79, including bogeys on his final three holes. He didn’t
expect to make the cut.

At the 18th, the large gallery applauded, even playing partner
Michael Long, as Lyle walked gingerly around the green.

”I played five days in a row, including the pro-am, and the
last nine holes I started to feel it,” Lyle said. ”I got around,
and it’s not the end I wanted. But it’s better than I thought it
would be: three good rounds and one shocker, that’s golf.”