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Aaron Baddeley defends title

After getting a big fright late in the final round of the Australian Open at Kingston Heath, Aaron Baddeley has completed a successful defence of the title he won 12 months ago as an amateur.

Baddeley finished 10-under-par, two clear of 1994 champion Robert Allenby, and four ahead of Richard Green (69), while Scott Laycock (70) was fourth on minus four and Swede Pierre Fulke (73) and the Shark, Greg Norman (74), share fifth another shot back.

A year ago Baddeley showed poise and confidence far beyond his 18 years in holding off the likes of Colin Montgomerie and Greg Norman, and this year was no different, too good for the more seasoned Allenby as he won his maiden professional title.

“I had a great read in there, I hit a great eight-iron in there and I just trusted it and let it go and it went in,” Baddeley said of the crucial birdie putt at 17, before talking about his fast putting philosophy. “The brain knows where to hit it, you’ve just got to look once, the brain goes alright there’s the hole, lets put it in.”

“First of all it’s a great honour to be able to defend the Australian Open title. I’d like to thank my Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ once again. He’s been with me the whole year and I just want to thank him for sticking by me all the time.”

He also thanked his parents, Ron and Jo-Ann, sisters Emma and Kate, coach Dale Lynch his caddie Dion Kipping, who was also on his bag 12 months ago, his conditioning coach, friends and the general public for all their support, while also paying tribute to Allenby: “To Robert Allenby, we had a great day today, and I much appreciate your sportsmanship.”

Six clear after 12 holes, Baddeley seemed to be cruising to victory, but consecutive Allenby birdies at 13 and 14 reduced the margin to just four with four to play. Allenby was annoyed with himself leaving birdie putts at 15 and 16 just short, but a costly double bogey by Baddeley at 16 kept Allenby in the hunt.

Under intense pressure from the former champion Allenby, Baddeley conjured a brilliant birdie putt at the 17th, pumping his arm in celebration, and then watched moments later as Allenby three-putted his way to a bogey and out of the contest.

Four clear walking the last, Baddeley made a double bogey at the final hole for an even-par final round of 72 to claim the Stonehaven Cup for a second time, while Allenby also closed out his round of 75 with a par, and contented himself with second place.

Earlier in the day, Allenby began with a one shot lead on 11-under, but misread a chip up onto the first green and then three-putted his way to a double bogey, while Baddeley safely holed his par after leaving his birdie attempt a foot short.

Both Allenby and Baddeley left their birdie attempts at the second short, before easily knocking in their par savers, before Allenby got back on level terms with a recovering birdie at three after a great approach, as Baddeley made par for the third hole in a row.

Baddeley made his first birdie for the day at the fourth, brilliantly holing a long putt, before watching as Allenby failed to do the same, leaving his own birdie try on the fringe of the hole.

Both players finished with pars at the fifth, before Baddeley twice found bunkers on six, playing out of a fairway trap and straight into another lining the green. The 19-year-old comfortably got up and down, chipping out to within five feet, and then holing his par, after Allenby two-putted his way to a par of his own after leaving his birdie putt just short.

Back-to-back Baddeley birdies at seven and eight took him three clear of Allenby, who could only manage pars of his own, but Baddeley’s first bogey for the day at the ninth cut his lead to two strokes, before Allenby, perhaps frustrated by a run of six straight pars, bogeyed the 10th to fall three behind again.

Allenby’s slide didn’t stop there either, the 1994 champion lurching even further with his second double bogey for the day at 11 to fall five adrift, before Baddeley’s fourth birdie of the day at 12, when he beautifully rolled in a left to right putt to extend the margin to six.

278 A Baddeley 69 69 68 72

280 R Allenby 69 72 64 75

282 R Green 73 72 68 69

284 S Laycock 71 69 74 70

285 P Fulke (Swe) 69 73 70 73, G Norman 72 69 70 74

287 A Buckle 74 70 74 69, S Appleby 73 71 74 69, W Smith 74 74 67 72, P O'Malley 68 73 73 73, N O'Hern 74 69 71 73, S Bowditch 72 70 70 75

288 N Faldo (Eng) 71 70 75 72, J Moseley 71 72 73 72, A Scott 74 71 69 74

289 S Collins 74 70 75 70, K Druce 73 74 70 72, P Gow 68 77 71 73, T Elliot 72 74 70 73, G Turner (Nzl) 68 70 74 77, P Lonard 73 71 69 76

290 C Parry 74 73 73 70, B Kennedy 74 72 73 71, D Bransdon 71 76 72 71, J Benepe (USA) 72 73 73 72, M Doyle 73 74 71 72, S Tait 71 77 69 73, G Chalmers 74 74 68 74, M Harwood 70 71 74 75, A Bonhomme 74 71 69 76

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