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Laycock gains first tour title

Scott Laycock has broken through for his maiden Australasian Tour victory, winning the ANZ Vic Open title by three strokes on the back of a superb final round at Cranbourne Golf Club in Melbourne.

“It’s been a long time coming, I’ve been in this position a lot, so this means a lot,” an emotional Laycock said immediately after his win.

Laycock finished 18-under-par courtesy of his 65, to win by three strokes from left-hander Richard Green (65) and four from James McLean (64), while Euan Walters (66), Michael Long (68), David Diaz (68), Jon Riley (66) and Scott Hend (69) shared fourth on minus 11.

Early on the final day, it was Gardiner who set the pace, picking up a couple of birdies to stay ahead of the field, with the challenge coming from the leader of the first two rounds, Podlich.

Although Laycock birdied the first to stay within one of Gardiner, he then bogeyed the second and could only par three and four. His second birdie of the day at the fifth kept him within two of Gardiner, who then bogeyed the sixth and eight to drop back.

Laycock then went on a run that swept him to the lead, birdieing the eighth, ninth and 10th holes, but had to first deal with Podlich, before he struck trouble at the 12th, and then Green who followed his quartet of birdies on the front nine with another three early on the back to stay with Laycock.

Laycock’s sixth birdie of the day at 13 took him momentarily clear on 16-under, before Green’s eighth birdie saw him close the gap again. But Laycock birdied again at 16 to go clear, and when Green missed a par putt from three feet at the last, the title was Laycock’s.

1999 NCAA Amateur Champion McLean started his round slowly, opening with four pars to give no indication of the devastating burst he would later unleash.

The 22-year-old birdied five and six to turn two-under for the day and minus eight overall, and not even a bogey at 10 could slow him down. He responded to that with further birdies at 11, 12, 13, 16 and 17 to finish with his sensational eight-under 64.

Hend birdied his first and fourth holes to get to 10-under, before bogeying the eighth to turn one-under for the day. With those around him falling away, his third birdie at 12 and an eagle at 16 jumped him up the board before he made a costly bogey at 18.

Walters came back well from his disappointing 75 yesterday, carding six birdies in his flawless round; Diaz managed an eagle, four birdies and a pair of bogeys, and Long picked up four shots overall with five birdies and a bogey.

Riley in particular was on track to one of the hottest rounds of the day, his pair of early eagles and four more midway through his round taking him to 12-under, before a wayward drive off the tee at the lost cost him a bogey.

Podlich birdied one, bogeyed two, and birdied the fourth, fifth and 11th holes to be three-under for the day and tied for the lead, but found trouble at the 12th when he put his drive into the trees.

He had to step aside after playing his second shot, the ball bouncing back off a tree and almost landing in the same spot he hit from, before he finished the hole with a bogey, and another at 13 saw him slump three behind.

Two more bogeys later in the day on the way to his 73 cost the Jack Newton Classic winner quite a few places and a deal of prizemoney into the bargain.

Gardiner birdied the first and fifth holes to move to 14-under and stay in front at the start of his round, but bogeys at the sixth, eighth and 13th holes saw him slip back to minus 10 and end his victory chances.

Birdies at 15 and 16 took him back to outright fourth, and that was where he looked set to stay, until an extremely costly double bogey at the last saw him fall back into a tie for ninth with Podlich, and Americans David Gossett (71) and Douglas LaBelle (67).

Andrew Buckle, who performed so well in the Australian Open a couple of months ago, took out leading amateur honours, finishing 17th alongside Stephen Leaney and Peter Lonard on eight-under after shooting a 70 today.

Other rounds of note were Kiwi Marcus Wheelhouse’s 66, while several others, including Rob Willis, Danny Willersdorf, Nathan Gatehouse and Roger Tambellini all signed for rounds of 67.

Simon Tooman didn’t fare so well though, crashing to an 83 that saw him finish second-last, behind only Mike Harwood, on plus nine.

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