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Lonard holds on for second Tour win

Early in the final round of the Ford South Australian Open Championship at Kooyonga in Adelaide, it appeared to be a case of how far Peter Lonard, but the New South Welshman had to fight his way through a mid-round slump before claiming his second Australasian Tour victory.

“Today I just though I had to go out and play solid, and today I started out very solidly and fell apart on one hole and I thought boy I’m in a bit of trouble here, but I gutsed it out and I was very happy with it,” Lonard said.

Lonard finished the tournament on 19–under-par, winning by a comfortable six strokes from a fast-finishing Paul Gow, while Craig Jones (67), Nick O’Hern (68) and Shane Tait (68) were tied for third another shot back.

Andrew Bonhomme (72) managed outright sixth placing on minus 11, with Wayne Riley (72) seventh another shot adrift, and Brett Rumford (68), Adam Scott (69), David Bransdon (70) and defending champion Craig Parry (70) equal eighth on nine-under.

The 1997 Australian Masters champion began with a blaze of birdies after resuming on 15-under, picking up shots at the opening three holes to streak to a seven-stroke lead over Craig Jones and O’Hern, who were making charges of their own.

Jones began his round in sensational fashion, birdieing the first five holes to move to 12-under, but his run ended with a bogey at six, while O’Hern went out in four-under 33.

Things began to tighten though when Lonard double bogeyed the fifth hole and bogeyed eight, moments after Jones had birdied the 10th to join O’Hern on 12-under and move within three of Lonard.

At that point Lonard surely had thoughts of his weekend collapses of the past few weeks when one bad round each week had cost him much higher finishes, but he responded brilliantly to birdie nine and turn one-under for the day, and four clear of the chasing Jones and O’Hern on minus 16.

West Australian O’Hern wasn’t done with yet though, birdieing the 11th to bring the gap back to just three again with seven to play. But again Lonard had all the answers, sinking a long-range birdie at 13.

Four clear at that point, Lonard also birdied the 14th, before O’Hern stumbled at the par three 15th after leaving his tee shot off the green and two-putting his way to a bogey, and when Lonard made it three birdies on the trot at 15, the winner’s cheque was all but in his back pocket.

From there he could afford to par the final three holes, to finish with his fourth round of the week in the 60’s, a four-under 68.

“I was more than happy with what happened, I really knuckled down,” Lonard said. “I played some smart golf when it needed to be played, something I’ve been lacking for the last couple of years, and I got through quite nicely.”

Anchored on 12-under for the first five holes of the back nine, Jones’ finished his tournament with a run of bogey, birdie, bogey, birdie.

Grabbing the headlines a few groups ahead though was Canon Challenge winner Gow, who like O’Hern went out in 33 and then added further birdies at 12, 14, 16 and 17 - and a final hole bogey - to quietly slip past O’Hern and Jones into outright second place as he went within a stroke of matching Gary Simpson’s Saturday 64.

Another round of note was a 67 from Queenslander Adam Crawford, who birdied the first and then holed out for an albatross with a sensational two-iron into the green from 209 metres. Crawford mixed it up from that point, eventually improving his score by another stroke overall with three more birdies and a pair of bogeys.

Bonhomme hung in there all day, recovering from a bogey at the sixth with a birdie at 16, while Simpson had a disappointing final round, the local hope bogeying three, six and eight to reach the turn in 40, and adding another at 13 to shoot a 76.

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