Chile’s Joaquin Niemann shot five-under-par final round in Sydney to take Rikuya Hoshino to a play-off, which he then won with an eagle on the second play-off hole on the 18th; South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai retained the women’s Australian Open title
Last Updated: 03/12/23 9:29am
LIV golfer Joaquin Niemann claimed his first DP World Tour title at the Australian Open after eagling the second play-off hole to beat Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino.
Chilean Niemann, who joined LIV Golf in 2022, lipped out with a four-foot eagle putt on the first re-run of the 18th, but made no mistake on the second play-off hole, draining a slightly longer eagle attempt to add a first DP World Tour tournament win to the two he has won on the PGA Tour.
The Australian Open is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia and the DP World Tour.
“It means a lot,” Niemann said.
“This season wasn’t the best for me. I wanted to play more golf. It was huge to come up here and play good golf and get a result.”
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai retained the title in the women’s Australian Open, being played in parallel on the same course, by holding off Australia’s Minjee Lee to win by a single stroke on nine under despite shooting a three-over-par 75.
Earlier in a wild final round, Niemann had shot a five-under-par 66 to take the clubhouse lead with Hoshino joining him on 14 under when he completed a round of 70 some 90 minutes later.
Min Woo Lee, who beat Hoshino in a Sunday duel to win the Australian PGA Championship last week, came up short in his bid to go back-to-back after a 71 and had to settle for third place on 12 under.
Spectacular overnight storms cleared to make way for a bright, sunny morning at The Australian Golf Club but the wind had already started building and it increased in speed until it wreaked havoc with the local contenders.
Min Woo Lee, younger brother of Minjee, and Hoshino shared the overnight lead and were expected to reprise their duel, but Adam Scott and Lucas Herbert made early charges to share the lead.
Former Masters champion Scott edged ahead of the leading pack with his eighth birdie at his 15th hole but calamity struck at the next when his tee shot landed in an unplayable lie hard up against a fence and he took a triple-bogey.
Herbert also had a triple-bogey at the eighth to tumble out of contention, leaving Niemann and Englishman Alex Fitzpatrick, brother of 2022 US Open champion Matt, top of the leaderboard on 13 under.
Niemann had flirted with disaster on his first go at the 18th when his tee shot went into the crowd and he had to nip into a marquee to get a look at the green before firing an iron shot over the diners and walking away with a sixth birdie.
Buhai started the day with a three-stroke lead over former world No 1 Jiyai Shin but none of her rivals were able to close the gap even after the South African dropped three shots on the back nine.
Minjee Lee, seven strokes back at the start of the day, got within a shot after Buhai went into the water at the 17th but the 2022 Women’s British Open champion held her nerve to claim the title with a par putt at the last.
Trio secure qualification for The Open in 2024
Their respective results from Sunday’s final round in Sydney confirmed that Niemann, Hoshino and Scott have qualified for The 152nd Open at Royal Troon, which takes place on July 18-21 2024.
The Australian Open was the second event in the Open Qualifying Series.
Niemann will feature at The Open for a fifth time, having hitherto achieved a best finish of 53rd at St Andrews in 2022, while Hoshino makes the field for the fourth consecutive event.
For Scott, it will mark a 24th consecutive appearance and give him another chance to go one better than 2012 at Royal Lytham and St Annes when he threw away a four-shot lead going in to the final round and finished second to Ernie Els.
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