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Peter Lonard defendsAustralian Open title

Defending champion Peter Lonard charged home with five late birdies to win the centenary Australian Open by a single shot on Sunday.

While most of his rivals melted in the heat on a scorching day in Sydney, Australian Lonard kept his cool to shoot a final round three-under-par 68 for a total of three-under-par 281.

Stuart Appleby had a chance to force a play-off when he birdied the 16th but missed birdie putts on the last two holes to finish a shot behind in outright second.

Overnight leader Rod Pampling fell out of contention with a round of 75 but salvaged a birdie at the last to finish tied for third with Steven Bowditch who closed with a 69.

"There is so much history behind this tournament and this is the one every kid in Australia wants to win," a jubilant Lonard said. "To get my name on the Stonehaven Cup trophy again is fantastic and I proved it wasn't a fluke last time."

Only four players broke par for the tournament as the temperature rose to 39 degrees Celsius on the final day, making low-scoring almost impossible as the greens quickened up.

Lonard started the day five shots off the pace after three matching rounds of even par 71 and parred the first 10 holes before making his move.

The 37-year-old, whose career was almost ruined a decade ago when he contracted Ross River Fever, a chronic fatigue illness, had made just six birdies in his first 64 holes but reeled off five birdies in the next seven holes.

He went to the final tee leading comfortably by three but made a bogey at the last when he hooked his approach shot. Appleby birdied the 16th to close the gap to a shot.

"I thought I blew it on the last but somehow I got away with it," Lonard said.

281 Peter Lonard 71 71 71 68

282 Stuart Appleby 69 70 72 71

283 Rod Pampling 67 67 74 75, Steven Bowditch 73 70 71 69

284 Kurt Barnes 65 73 72 74, Richard Green 67 75 67 75, Alistair Presnell 71 71 74 68

285 Robert Allenby 74 70 69 72, Gavin Coles 70 73 72 70, Rodger Davis 71 73 71 70, Paul Gow 71 69 71 74, Martin Doyle 70 73 70 72

286 Stephen Leaney 70 71 72 73, Camilo Villegas (Colombia) 69 74 69 74

287 Greg Chalmers 67 74 77 69, Anthony Painter 70 70 77 70, Steven Conrad 73 72 69 73, Bob Estes (U.S.) 73 70 70 73

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