Abraham Ancer with the Stonehaven Cup.
Abraham Ancer with the Stonehaven Cup. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Lakes cruise as Ancer takes Open honours

THE back nine on Sunday is meant to be when golf championships are won and lost because that's usually the time when the pressure is at its most suffocating.

Abraham Ancer spent Sunday waiting for the challengers to come and really test his nerves, but they didn't, so he just waltzed away with the 103rd Australian Open like he was taking a leisurely stroll in the park.

Holding a commanding five-shot lead heading into the final round, the diminutive Mexican signed off with a 3-under-par 69 to finish at 16-under and win by five strokes for one of the easiest wins in the tournament's recent history.

"It's been a phenomenal week, my first time in Australia. The names on this cup are absolutely incredible," Ancer said.

"My approach was the same. I felt really comfortable all week so I didn't change anything off the tee."

Abraham Ancer tees off during the final round.
Abraham Ancer tees off during the final round. Mark Metcalfe

The bigger name players were nowhere to be seen on the last day at The Lakes so the battlers filled the void.

Dimitrios Papadatos overcame the embarrassment of four-putting the 14th hole to close with a 67 to finish outright second at 11-under while Jake McLeod carded a 66 to take third spot at 10-under.

That came with an added bonus as the top three all qualified for next year's British Open at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.

"That's awesome. That just tops it off," Papadatos said.

"I was just happy to get in the clubhouse with a good score today and reap the benefits now."

McLeod was unaware he had qualified for the British Open but said the key to his success was being able to forget the disappointment of being penalised a shot in his third round for taking too long to play a shot after his ball stopped on the lip of a hole before eventually dropping in.

"Not that I was blowing up or anything, but I sort of just had get to get back to shot focus and stuff," he said.

"I sort of got away from it a bit and a little bit frustrated when I found out I got a penalty."

Cameron Smith hits from the trees during the final round. Picture: Brett Costello
Cameron Smith hits from the trees during the final round. Picture: Brett Costello

Australia's top ranked player, Cameron Smith, saved his best for last, firing a 66 to finish tied for 10th, while the 2017 winner Cameron Davis plummeted down the leaderboard with a 75.

Matt Kuchar, who won in Mexico last week, and his fellow American Keegan Bradley also shot 75s so were never in contention as Ancer cruised to victory.

Despite his big lead, the Mexican still had cause to be anxious.

His only win as a professional had been in a lower tier event in Nova Scotia three years ago and questions were being asked about his ability to finish off tournaments after he blew two golden opportunities to win on the US PGA Tour when he led on the last day.

Ancer extended his lead to six strokes when he chipped in for birdie on the fourth hole with the best shot of the day and was seven ahead after adding two more birdies at the eighth and nine.

His advantage was trimmed to four when he bogeyed the 12th but he regained the dropped shot when he drained a long birdie putt on the 14th them safely parred the last four.

The omens could be good for Ancer as last two foreigners to win the Australian Open, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy, both won majors the following year.

"I feel like this will give me some confidence for sure. I feel like I'm been playing really good golf the last seven months but just haven't been able to win a tournament," he said.

"But I feel like my game is there and hopefully it will help my career like it did for Spieth and McIlroy when they came to this event."

News Corp Australia


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