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Robert Allenby wins Australian Masters in playoff

Robert Allenby became the first player to win the "triple crown" of Australian golf in the same season, when he beat Bubba Watson of the United States in a playoff at the Australian Masters on Sunday.

Australia's Allenby, who won the Open at Moonah Links two weeks ago and PGA last week at Coolum in Queensland, beat the American on the first playoff hole after the pair had tied for 17-under-par 271.

Allenby two-putted to make par on the par-four 18th then watched as Watson's first putt slid past the right hand side of the hole then the second attempt lipped out, giving the 34-year-old the title.

"It has been an amazing three weeks and I'm proud of myself for doing what was needed," Allenby said of his three victories.

"I was nervous on every single shot this week, but I kept telling myself you've got to be strong.

"It's a long way from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon.

"It was just a matter of hanging in there and making birdies when I needed to and try to make some pars."

Watson, who started in third overnight on 12-under, tore up the course at Huntingdale Golf Club in suburban Melbourne with a mixture of eight birdies and three bogeys to post a five-under 67 to force his way into the playoff.

Allenby had an opportunity to win the tournament on the final hole in regulation but his 30-foot putt for birdie came up short.

Australia's Nick O'Hern, who held the lead for 65 of the 72 holes, faltered over the last seven with four bogeys and finished two strokes further back on 15-under-par in third.

Allenby and Watson both drove down the middle of the fairway on the playoff hole though the 27-year-old American was almost 30-metres ahead of his Australian opponent.

Both also made safe second-shot approaches pin high, with Allenby's ball stopping about 20-feet from the flag.

The left-handed Watson, however, was about 10-feet closer, though his first attempt slid past then his second from about two feet lipped out.

"I'm not going to take anything away from him because he beat me fair and square but I gave it to him," Watson said.

"I'm not saying he wouldn't beat me on the very next hole but I gave him that short putt.

"Nerves got me and I just pulled it. I thought it was going to turn a little but it turned a lot. I just didn't make it."

O'Hern, seeking to win his first tournament since 1999, will be disappointed with his collapse after holding a two-stroke lead over playing partner Allenby after nine holes.

However, as the pressure mounted with Watson making four birdies and moving into contention and Allenby making an eagle three on the par-five 14th, O'Hern's game deserted him.

December 11, 2005

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