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Round 4: Nick Cullen wins Australian Masters

November 23, 2014

Australian lefthander Nick Cullen shot a 3-under 69 Sunday to win the Australian Masters by one stroke over Adam Scott, ending Scott's attempt for a third consecutive victory in the tournament.

Cullen, who had a four-round total of 9-under 279, saved par on the 18th after hitting his bunker shot to a foot.

"It would have been nice to have a little buffer coming down here (the 18th), but a couple of three putts gave that away," Cullen said. "To get up and down like that and have a win it's an amazing feeling."

Scott, who trailed by four strokes after three rounds, shot 68 Sunday and finished tied for second with two other Australians.

Scott's 60-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole curled out and he held the clubhouse lead for about an hour until Cullen finished his round at Metropolitan Golf Club.

"We had a great read on the final putt, and I couldn't believe it didn't go in," Scott said. "After all the putts that didn't drop this week, I really needed that one."

An eagle at the par-5 fourth and back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 helped Cullen clinch the win.

James Nitties and Josh Younger were tied for second with Scott.

Ranked 539th, Cullen's previous biggest win was the 2012 Indonesian Open on the OneAsia tour, while he won the Queensland Open in 2013.

He led on the opening day of the Australian Masters last year, but finished fourth behind Scott at Royal Melbourne.

Second-ranked Scott now heads to Sydney for an Australian Open showdown with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, the defending champion.

Round 3: Adam Scott closes in on leaders

November 22, 2014

Adam Scott moved in the right direction Saturday at the Australian Masters, shooting a 1-under 71 to pull to within four strokes of the lead as he attempts to win the tournament for the third consecutive year.

Scott got some help from gusty winds that affected the last few groups. He trailed by six when he finished, but an hour later, Paul Spargo, playing in the final group, was the leader after a 71 and a 54-hole total of 8-under 208.

That was one stroke better than second-round leader Michael Wright, who bogeyed four holes on the back nine for a 74 and after he and fellow Australian Spargo were told they were on the clock for slow play.

Geoff Ogilvy shot 71 and was in a group three shots behind.

Round 2: Michael Wright moves two clear

November 21, 2014

Unheralded Queenslander Michael Wright broke clear of a logjam atop the Australian Masters leaderboard to take a two-shot lead after the second round on Friday, while double defending champion Adam Scott battled hard to keep in touch.

Scott shot a four-under 68 on a glorious afternoon at Melbourne's Metropolitan Golf Club, but the world number two remained six strokes off the pace and behind a lengthy list of local tour grafters.

At the top was 771st-ranked Wright, one of a quartet of overnight leaders, who showed impressive poise in a 68 of his own to snatch the lead.

Wright, whose biggest triumphs have been three state-level PGA titles Down Under, was candid about his long battle to control nerves after his opening 67 on Thursday.

"I felt very comfortable out there today. I'm looking forward to trying to feel comfortable over the next couple of days," said Wright, who bogeyed his first hole in the tournament but has not dropped a shot since.

"There were a few (thoughts) but I managed to really keep them under wraps today. I felt a lot more relaxed in my body.

"It's when I get busy in the mind and start tightening things up I get into trouble."

Wright said he would try not to look over his shoulder over the weekend, with Scott expected to push hard.

Scott roared up the leaderboard early and was five-under for the day after 10 holes, but the magic deserted his putter thereafter and a bogey on the par-four 16th further applied the brakes.

"The course was really there to be had and I got off to a nice start through 10 holes and I was feeling really good, but unfortunately it slowed up on the back nine and a couple of random wedge shots cost me dearly," Scott, bidding for a record third straight Australian Masters title, told reporters.

"I'm within shouting distance, at least. Thirty-six holes, there's a lot of golf to be played, and if I play a good 36 I think I can be in with a chance."

Wright held a two-shot lead over South Australian Paul Spargo (67), with local amateur Todd Sinnott and Richard Green a further shot back.

Former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy remains in striking distance, five off the pace after carding a 71, with American Boo Weekley nine adrift after a second round of even par.

Round 1: Adam Scott struggles in windy conditions

November 20, 2014

Defending champion Adam Scott struggled in the blustery conditions at Metropolitan Golf Club on Thursday for a 1-over 73, six strokes behind a group of four of his countrymen who led the Australian Masters by a stroke after the first round.

Scott, who won the Masters the past two years at other sand-belt courses - Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath - began play on the back nine Thursday and shot 38, including a double-bogey on the 18th after his approach found a bunker. But an eagle on the par-5 sixth helped move him back up the leaderboard.

"A strong northerly (wind) from the get-go was always going to make it tough," Scott said. "I played pretty well but didn't take any of my chances. I'm a little behind the eight-ball at the moment but it's nothing a good round tomorrow won't fix."

Australians Michael Wright, Stephen Allan, Steven Bowditch and amateur Todd Sinnott shot 67s to share the lead. Bowditch had the outright lead until making bogey on his last hole.

Geoff Ogilvy shot 69 and was in a group tied for seventh with American Kyle Stanley. Americans Zac Blair (70) and Boo Weekley (72) were just behind them.

Ogilvy, who grew up in Melbourne and knows all about the vagaries of the city's weather, said he was prepared for a challenging day.

"That's about as tough as Melbourne can provide weather-wise," he said. "The early tee time, you see the forecast last night, northerly, you're like hopefully it doesn't start picking up and we get a few holes without it coming, but it was windy from the first hole. But I hit the ball better and better as the day went on."

Wright said it was like the "wild west" but the wind suited his game, with back-to-back birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.

"It was brutal out there," the 40-year-old Brisbane golfer said. "I hit the ball underground, really low, so it's suits me to a tee."

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