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Australian Open 2017

Round 4 - Cameron Davis wins on dramatic Sunday

November 27, 2017

Cameron Davis stunned even himself by shooting a seven-under-par 64 to win the 102nd Australian Open by a stroke on Sunday after overnight leader Jason Day's title charge ended in a mid-round collapse.

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The little-known Australian holed out for an eagle from the fairway at the 12th and sank an eight-foot putt for his sixth birdie at the 18th to upstage not only compatriot Day but defending champion Jordan Spieth.

With five leading groups still playing when he signed for his 11-under 273, Davis was shocked that he had ended up with the Stonehaven Cup in his hands, A$225,000 ($171,270.00) in the bank and a spot at next year's British Open.

"I'm a little bit numb at the moment, I just didn't expect to be in this situation," the 22-year-old told reporters.

"Even though I had a great round, I didn't think I was going to be far enough up the leaderboard. When I finished my round and had a look where everyone was, I was a bit surprised."

Matt Jones, the 2015 champion and member of the host Australian Golf Club, shared second with Swede Jonas Blixt after both shot 68s in a dramatic final round.

Cameron Smith also shot a 68 to finish fourth on nine-under but none of them was able to mount a challenge to knock Davis off the lead as the Sydney crosswinds wrought their customary havoc.

Former world number one Day started the day with a one-stroke lead but calamity struck when his ball hit the edge of a bunker and dropped into the water for a double bogey at the ninth.

Two more dropped shots at the 11th and 13th effectively killed off his hopes of winning his home Open for the first time to end his 2017 title drought and he finished fifth on eight-under.

"I just didn't play my best and obviously it's not great to shoot two-over par on the final round when you've got the lead," Day said.

"You know what? It is what it is."

American Spieth ended his title defense with an eagle at the 18th but his closing 67 was not enough to bridge the gap to the leaders and he ended up eighth on six-under.

"It was a great finish, it was nice," said the world number two.

"I felt like I hit a lot of really beautiful shots that weren't necessarily rewarded today based on just trying to judge the crosswinds. I really felt like I shot 62 today and it was 67, I had so many looks."

The day belonged to the man 1,492 places below Spieth in the world rankings, who etched his name onto an honor roll with Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Peter Thomson.

The former Australian Open amateur champion, who turned professional last year, shot a 63 to lead after the opening round but had all but given up hope of a victory after following that with a 72 and a 74.

"This is a dream come true," he said. "I'm going to remember this forever."

Round 3 - Jason Day edges ahead

November 26, 2017

Jason Day ended a frustrating run of par golf by making three late birdies to snatch the outright lead after the third round of the 102nd Australian Open on Saturday.

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The former world number one's patience finally paid off when he made back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th holes after parring his first 13 holes.

He did drop a shot when he bogeyed his penultimate hole for the second day in a row but made amends with a birdie at the last for a two-under-par 69 and a three-round total of 10-under-203.

"It was tough to try and not to force things. I know the crowds are out there and they want to see a lot of birdies," Day said.

"As a professional golfer that's been around for a while now, it's easier for me to stand back and go, okay, I need to be patient and not try to be too aggressive."

Day, chasing his first title in 18 months since winning the 2016 Players Championship in Florida, will head into Sunday's final round with a one-stroke lead over his fellow Australian Lucas Herbert, who carded an even-par 71 to finish at nine-under after leading overnight.

Sweden's Jonas Blixt charged up the leaderboard into a share of third place at seven-under after a flawless 66, and was joined by the 2015 Australian Open champion Matt Jones, who signed for a 68.

"Jason's a world class player, a former number one," Jones said. "(So) he'd be the favourite to win but we've seen many upsets before and as long as I manage my game and give myself birdie opportunities, anything can happen."

Australia's Cameron Smith, who teamed up with Blixt to win this year's Zurich Classic of New Orleans, was in fifth place at six-under after firing a third consecutive round of 69 while the defending champion Jordan Spieth shot a 70 to finish eight shots off the pace.

"If there's any place to come from way behind, it's here," Spieth said.

"If I can sneak a few breaks in... get a couple of long putts to go or chip in or something like that. I’m going to have to have some magic."

Day's failure to pick up any early birdies saw him slip two shots behind Herbert but he drew level with his playing partner when Herbert took a double-bogey on the par-three 11th when he lost his ball in the bushes after an errant tee shot.

Herbert said he was so nervous about the prospect of playing with Day in the final group that he couldn't sleep on Friday night but was pleased with how he handled the pressure.

"It's like trying to drink three cans of Red Bull and then go to bed; that’s what it felt like," he said.

"But after I made a couple of good pars there to start, I think that sort of kicked the nerves and I was good to go."

Day made a tap-in birdie at the par-5 14th after almost chipping in for eagle, then snatched the lead with a birdie at the 15th.

He narrowly missed a long putt on the 17th to salvage par to rejoin Herbert at nine-under but immediately regained his slim advantage with a superb approach on the 18th to set up birdie.

"This is my last tournament of the year. I just turned 30 just a little bit ago, and I said my 30s were going to be better than my 20s, so it would nice to be able to start my 30s off with a good win," Day said.

"I know it's going to be a very difficult day tomorrow with regard to what we're going to have out there: the pressure, the wind, the fans, the media."

"It's been a while since I've won, so obviously everyone's going to be nervous out there," he added.

"It's a good nervous; without nerves you don't get in the zone and without being in the zone, you don't shoot the scores that you can shoot."

Round 2 - Lucas Herbert leads at halfway

November 25, 2017

A charging Jason Day drilled a birdie putt just wide of the 18th hole and had to settle for second place behind young compatriot Lucas Herbert at the halfway stage of the Australian Open on Friday.

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With Jordan Spieth long in the clubhouse following a disappointing even-par 71 that left him one-under for the tournament, Day launched a back-nine blitz that looked like carrying him into the lead after two rounds of his home Open.

Four birdies in a row from the 12th took the former world number one into a share of the lead but his progress was stalled by a bogey after a poor approach shot at the 17th and the missed six-footer on the final green left him with a 68.

Herbert, unlike defending champion Spieth, had earlier made the most of calmer morning conditions with a six-birdie 66, blemished only by a bogey at his final hole to settle for a nine-under total and a one-stroke lead over Day.

Overnight leader Cameron Davis bogeyed his final hole to drop to third, a shot further back, after a 72, and Anthony Quayle (69) was fourth on six-under as Australians dominated the leaderboard.

"I'm very pleased with the way I played, I gave myself the opportunity again today, made a lot of birdies," said Day, who has never won the Stonehaven Cup and is still looking for his first title of the season.

"I think if I could just tidy it up. I was in a great position at nine-under and going towards the green with the wedge in my hand at the 17th and I just hit a poor shot. Those are the things that frustrate me most."

World number two Spieth had started the day with high hopes of going low on a bright, sunny morning only for his putting game to fail him until the final green, when he finally sank a long putt for his second birdie of the day.

"It was a bit of a struggle today," the American said. "I managed to really stay in it. It could have got out of hand there towards the end.

"To finish strong with a birdie gives me some momentum into tomorrow."

Despite being eight shots off the lead, the 24-year-old Texan, champion in 2014 and again last year, was confident he was by no means out of contention. Day agreed.

"We've got two days left so it's not enough (of a lead) unfortunately," the 2015 PGA Championship winner added.

"He's Jordan Spieth, I wouldn't be surprised to see him pushing for the lead at the weekend. He usually does make a charge at the weekend."

Round 1 - Jordan Spieth struggles in first round

November 24, 2017

Defending champion Jordan Spieth struggled in gusty afternoon winds Thursday at the Australian Open, while Jason Day took advantage of more calm morning conditions.

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The result was that the tournament's marquee players were overshadowed by first-round leader Cameron Davis, who shot an 8-under 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

That left Day, making his first competitive appearance in his home country since 2013, three strokes behind after a 66. Spieth was seven strokes behind after shooting 70.

Spieth, who bogeyed his first two holes and appeared to be out of sorts for most of his round, is trying to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years.

Taylor MacDonald was two strokes behind fellow Australian Davis and alone in second place, while two other Australians, Nick Cullen and Alex Edge, were level with Day at 5-under, tied for third.

All but two of the leading 18 players had morning tee times.

Spieth said he was rusty after a lengthy break.

''It was a bit inconsistent,'' Spieth said. ''But I had five bogeys, and to still shoot under par is really good. There was a bit of good there after a rough start.''

An indication of the state of Spieth's play came on the par-5 14th hole when his approach went wide and under a large advertising sign. Spieth and a course worker moved the sign, then Spieth hit his short wedge into a bunker. After blasting out to about seven feet, he missed the putt and made bogey.

Matt Jones, the 2015 champion playing in Spieth's group, picked up some of the American's bad luck. He bogeyed three holes in a row and then got chased by a duck coming up the 16th fairway before finishing with a 71.

Spieth missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the 16th, hit into the fairway bunker on the 17th and put his approach through the green, but scrambled to make par. He finished on a good note, though, making a 20-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th.

''I was a little anxious to get started, my short game was a bit rusty,'' Spieth said. ''But I started to pick it up and it was pretty good from there.''

Spieth should be able to take advantage of expected calmer conditions in his morning round on Friday.

''There were tremendous scoring conditions this morning which we're hoping to see in the morning tomorrow, so I've got to go out and take advantage and move up the board,'' he said. ''Those guys will get what we had this afternoon and it'll certainly be more difficult, so being seven back isn't really seven back, given the difference in the waves.''

Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey six on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 440-meter hole. He recovered quickly, however, to birdie his last hole.

The Ohio-based Day appeared to enjoy being back in Australia, posing for selfies with fans and signing autographs after his round.

''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10. I think it's definitely out there to shoot a deep one, but that's kind of the thing, you almost need to come out and capitalize when there's no wind.''

The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''



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