Scott edges Poulter for Australia victory
Updated: Sunday, 18 Nov 2012 11:11
Adam Scott edged out playing partner Ian Poulter in a final day shootout to break a 15-month tournament drought and claim his first gold jacket at the Australian Masters in Melbourne.
Scott took on one of the fiercest competitors in world golf and beat him in a head-to-head battle at Kingston Heath, with the world number five overturning a one-shot deficit on the final day to win by four strokes at 17 under par.
The Australian's final round score of 67 was five shots better than Poulter's, with the pair finishing well clear of the rest of the field.
New Zealanders Gareth Paddison and Mark Brown had a close battle for third place, but had to settle for a share of the spoils some eight shots behind Scott.
There were no final-round heroics from Graeme McDowell, as the third-highest ranked player in the field could only close with a 71.
That was good enough for him to share eighth spot with David Bransdon at two under.
Scott and Poulter went shot for shot over the first 11 holes, but the Englishman made bad mistakes on the two par fives on the way home that ultimately led to his downfall.
Poulter opted for a hybrid out of a fairway bunker at the 12th and could only move the ball forward 20 metres into more sand, before finding a greenside trap with his approach shot and settling for a bogey.
That put him two behind Scott and when he shot over the back and failed to get up-and-down at the 14th, the Australian's advantage was out to three.
Scott only had to make pars over the concluding stages to hold on and he did so with relative ease, before holing a birdie putt on the last to hammer the final nail into Poulter's coffin.
He did receive a minor scare when his playing partner birdied the tough par-four 16th to get back within two, but Poulter inexplicably missed a simple two-foot putt on the 17th green to give that shot back and put the result beyond doubt.
Such an anti-climatic finish seemed nigh-on impossible earlier in the day as the duo battled back and forth for supremacy over the front nine in a final-round pairing that felt more like a matchplay event.
Scott made a brilliant birdie-birdie start to go from one behind Poulter to one in front, but the Englishman fought straight back.
His approach at the third was stone-dead as he tapped in for birdie to tie it up, before edging one clear yet again when Scott failed to get up-and-down from a tough bunker at the fourth.
Scott then made three consecutive birdies starting at the sixth, with the pick of those coming at the par-four seventh when he rolled in a long putt for three to match Poulter's tap-in birdie and then cheekily mocked the Englishman's reaction from yesterday when he did the same thing to the Australian.
The pair shared birdies at the short par-three eighth and, as the wind increased later in the day, so did their scores.
However, Scott remained steady on the way home, with Poulter's meltdown on the two longest holes on the course proving the difference between the two players.
Queenslander Adam Crawford shot the best round of the day, with his 65 catapulting him up the leaderboard to finish in fifth at six under, while Peter Senior and Michael Hendry were a further two shots back in a share of sixth.