Allenby wins Australian Masters after play-off

 

Overnight leader Robert Allenby defied illness to win his first Australian Masters in a four-way play-off today before setting his sights on clinching a major championship.

Australian Allenby, who had oozed confidence in the final stages of the tournament, was taken to the second playoff hole by compatriot Adam Scott before he sealed victory by holing a birdie putt from three feet.

Allenby, 32, who was playing in his home city and had battled influenza and stomach cramps all week, maintained his perfect record of eight wins in eight playoffs.

"I'm so happy to have the win here this week," said the world number 18, who finished at 11-under-par 277. I've been trying for so many years to win the Masters here. But I thought I was going to blow it today," added Allenby of a closing 71 that included two bogeys in the last three holes.

Scott, 23, made a brave bid for the title but his 50-foot birdie putt stopped on the edge of the cup at the second extra hole, the par-four 18th.

Allenby had sunk a 10-foot par putt at the 72nd hole to join a four-way playoff with Scott, triple Australian Masters winner Craig Parry and joint Australian PGA champion Jarrod Moseley.

Scott, a winner on the European and U.S. PGA Tours this year, had put together the round of the tournament with an eight-under-par 64 today. Moseley finished with a 69 and Parry 67.

Allenby and Scott then both birdied the first playoff hole where Parry and Moseley dropped out of contention.

Scott, who also lost last year's Australian Masters to Peter Lonard in a playoff, challenged Allenby by reaching the green from a fairway bunker with his approach shot. His tee shot had hit a spectator on the knee and rebounded into the bunker.

However Allenby, winless for two years, took charge by hitting what he described as a "punched three-quarter nine iron" second shot three feet from the hole.

The Victorian, who has won four times on the U.S. PGA Tour, said: "I know I'm good enough and I know how much potential I have to win a major.

"I know mentally I'm tough enough." Allenby added that he drew great confidence from halving his crucial singles match with American Davis Love III at last month's Presidents Cup team competition in South Africa, where the Internationals shared the trophy with the U.S.

Allenby predicted that Scott, who shares coach Butch Harmon with Tiger Woods, would become a genuine rival for the world's number one player.

"He could be Australia's Tiger Woods, without a doubt. He has the full package. He's awesome," Allenby said of the young Queenslander. Scott, who had spoken earlier in the week of his desire to win a tournament in his home country, said:

"It is a little disappointing. I think I did all I could. "When Rob birdies 18 twice, it is kind of hard to match."