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Lonard wins Australian Open on final hole

World number 42 Peter Lonard clinched his first Australian Open title when a birdie at the 72nd hole edged out U.S. Open runner-up Stephen Leaney and Chris Downes by one stroke on Sunday.

Lonard, who started the day two shots behind overnight leader Downes, closed with a three-under-par 69 to finish on nine-under 279 and win a gripping shootout with Leaney at the new Moonah Links course about 100 km south of Melbourne.

The 2002 Australian PGA and Australian Masters winner, Lonard added the national open championship to his list of titles with a stunning approach shot to the par-five 18th that left him with a six-foot putt for birdie.

"To hole one (birdie putt) on the last was a very special feeling," Lonard told reporters.

"I think I was two or three from the lead with nine to go. I thought if I could just make a couple of birdies (he made three on the 13th, 16th and 18th) I'd be around there.

"I was lucky enough to do it."

Leaney, who was in the final playing group with Downes, needed a birdie on the 18th to force a playoff but failed to hole his 10-foot putt.

Downes, 23, who held a one-stroke lead overnight from Leaney, had five bogeys in a 72 and had to be content with equal second place with Leaney (71) on 280, eight under.

Craig Jones (71) and 44-year-old Peter Fowler, who closed with a 70 and won the Australian Open 20 years ago, shared fourth place on 281.

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