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Appleby wins with record round

Stuart Appleby equalled the course record to win the Australian Open golf championship on Sunday by three shots.

Appleby shot a final round 65 to finish with a total of 13-under-par 271 ahead of joint overnight leader Scott Laycock at the par-71 The Grand on Queensland's Gold Coast.

South Africa's Ernie Els, the world number four, closed with a 67 to finish third, a further two strokes behind, the only non-Australian in the top eight.

Appleby, who had won three times on the US PGA Tour but only once on his home circuit, started the day level with Laycock but led by a shot when they turned for home. Laycock drew level at the 12th and they were still all square with four holes to play when the 30-year-old Appleby made his move.

He went one in front when Laycock bogeyed the 15th then stretched his lead to three shots when he birdied the par three 16th and Laycock made another bogey.

Appleby moved four clear with a birdie at the 17th and sealed his victory despite missing an eight-metre putt for par on the last that would have given him a new course record.

"To say that was hard work is an understatement," Appleby said after winning his first Australian Open.
"I knew Scotty was going to push me all the way, he was swinging it so smooth, and we were really fighting it hard.

"To have Scotty stall at the end was fortunate on my behalf, I really thought it was going to go down to the last hole. It was nerve-wracking all day, I was taking deep breaths from hole one."

An emotional Appleby finished tied for second in the Australian Open at Royal Adelaide in 1998, just months after his wife Renay was killed in a freak traffic accident outside London's Waterloo Station.

Renay's parents joined Appleby's mother and father in the gallery on Sunday to watch him win his first national championship and he later thanked them for their support.

"It's been a really fun day, I guess the secret of winning is not knowing when you've won or (are) going to win a tournament," Appleby said.

"You just sort of get out of your own way, but it's a very hard thing to do."

Els started the day three shots off the pace but quickly bowed out of contention with a poor start before a late flurry enable him to climb back to third.

The South African made scores of three on five straight holes from the 9th to the 14th, including an eagle, to finish two shots clear of Rod Pampling and four ahead of Peter Lonard.

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