Sydney: Mexico's Abraham Ancer romped to a five-shot victory at the Australian Open on Sunday, holding his nerve to win only his second professional golf tournament.
The world number 96, who already has two top-five finishes on the US PGA Tour this season, saw overnight challengers including Americans Matt Kuchar and Keegan Bradley fade away and was never seriously threatened.
Australian Dimitrios Papadatos, who has been playing on the Challenge Tour in Europe, gave it his best shot with a five-under-par 67 to try and reel him in, but it was too little too late and he had to settle for second best. Ancer stroked four birdies and one bogey in his 69 to add his name to a Stonehaven Cup that is engraved with some of the all-time greats, including Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
"Inside I was feeling nervous on the back nine," said Ancer, who has dual citizenship after being born in Texas before moving to Mexico. "I had the lead in a couple of events on the PGA Tour last season and unfortunately I couldn't close it out, but it taught me a lot. I'm extremely happy with the way I played," he added.
"It's an unbelievable experience and the win is for my family and for Mexican golf," said Ancer. His only previous victory was at the Nova Scotia Open on the web.com tour — a pathway to the PGA Tour — in 2015, with his triumph in Sydney giving him automatic qualification into the next British Open.
Australian Jake McLeod, who won the NSW Open last week, hit one of the best rounds of the day (66) to finish third, but the fancied Kuchar and Bradley slumped to 75s as they ran out of steam.
Bradley ended 12 behind Ancer and Kuchar, who won in Mexico last week, was 13 off the pace.
Japanese amateur Keita Nakajima, in second place after round three, kept his cool under final day pressure to shoot a credible par round to finish tied fifth and reinforce his potential.
The softly-spoken Nakajima won gold at the Asian Games this year and secured a second-place finish at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship last month.
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Updated Date: Nov 18, 2018 17:02:55 IST