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Lonard wins Australian Masters in playoff

With the events of the previous two PGA tour events and the wild weather that whipped Huntingdale on the first two days, it was going to take something spectacular to finish the 2002 Tour season off with a bang. The Mastercard Masters lived up to that challenge.

The finish was a thrilling as could be expected, a playoff between three of Australia’s most talented golfers. In the end, the good form of Peter Lonard carried him from a seemingly unwinnable position on the 12th tee to his second gold jacket.

The playoff which finally separated Lonard, Gavin Coles and Adam Scott began with no hint of the result to come. Lonard hit his tee-shot on the first playoff hole into a bunker on the left hand side while Coles and Scott split the middle of the 18th fairway.

“I hit it in that bunker on Thursday and took a double-bogey so I wasn’t very confident when I was heading down there,” he said

Lonard took a risk with the lip of the bunker, taking a seven-iron and put the ball in the heart of the green. The pressure was now on Coles and Scott who both put their approach shots short and right. Lonard two-putted, Coles got up and down but Scott’s putter, which had troubled him all week, let him down and an Australasian Tour victory would elude him for another year.

Coles and Lonard then headed to the 17th and with good tee-shots setting them up for birdie chances. This time it was Lonard’s turn to leave it short and right and Coles turn to get down in two putts. Lonard got up and down and they headed back to the 18th tee.

This time they both found trouble with Coles finding the trap and Lonard in the rough close to the grandstands. Coles was forced to lay up while a line-of-sight ruling helped Lonard get a chance at an approach shot. He put it with about seven metres while Coles wasn’t able to do much better from a much closer range. Each man took two putts and Lonard took the $225,000 first prizemoney.

The final words are perhaps best left to Coles who seemed happy enough with his efforts.

“Wow that was great fun,” he said. “It was a great last day of work for the year.”

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