2013 Australian Open: McIlroy snatches victory, but what have we learned?

A stunning end to a big month of Australian golf left golf fans in disbelief as Rory McIlroy snatched victory from Adam Scott at the final hole.

Australian Open McIlroy Scott
Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy get ready to tee off at yesterday’s final round of the 2013 Australian Open.

An incredible, unexpected finish to the 2013 Australian Open had everyone a little frazzled yesterday. It had journalists frantically  re-writing their pieces for the Monday papers and Australian golf fans shaking their heads.

Scott looked for all money like the next Australian Open champion as he stuck his tee shot to eight feet at the difficult par-3 17th hole.

But Scott’s putter wasn’t working for him on Sunday. He stroked 35 shots from the flat stick and the birdie putt on 17 slipped by moments after McIlroy had made a clutch par putt.

A misjudged, over-clubbed iron into the 18th green meant Scott was faced with a difficult up-and-down, eventually carding a bogey.

McIlroy, still the world’s number six golfer, played a smart approach shot 12-feet under the hole and calmly rolled in the putt to record his first win of 2013 and ruin what was to be Adam Scott’s ‘triple-crown’ party.

It’s not like we didn’t know it already, but was a good reminder that golf doesn’t care for ‘triple-crown’s’,  sweet stories and fan favourites. As Martin Blake so succinctly said in rounding out his Golf Australia article:

“He (Scott) has behaved like Mr Perfect this past month. But perfection and golf are words that don’t go together.”

Rory McIlroy is back
Everyone has been wanting McIlroy to blame his Nike equipment for his poor year. In truth, the year hasn’t been quite as bad as everyone has made it out to be (tie for 8th at US PGA Champ and two Top-10s in WGC events) however he was winless for 2013 until yesterday.

A swing flaw crept into McIlroy’s swing earlier in the year:

“It’s funny, at the start of the year I started the year off with a bit of a swing flaw, was taking it a bit too far on the outside on the way back, dropping it a little bit too far on the inside on the way day.  I was a little bit inconsistent with my swing and then you spend a couple of months trying to get out of that.” McIlroy said this week.

“So I started hitting the ball left to right and started seeing golf courses much differently, much differently to how I’m used to seeing them because my natural shot shape is right to left.  Then from there, not being able to hit that draw that I’m so comfortable with, I lost my confidence a little bit and then the game started to get away from me. “

In McIlroy’s last four tournament’s he has three top-10’s including yesterday’s Australian Open victory where he didn’t make bogey in his final 31 holes. I think he’s got his swing sorted out now.

Adam Scott is… well, everything everyone else has said
It’s impossible to not like Adam Scott and his last month has shown just how world-class he is.

You could have forgiven Scott for playing poorly across the last month as he must have signed thousands of autographs, posed in thousands of photos, attended function after function, chatted to every media organisation in the country and managed to see friends and family as well.

But his golf, demeanour and generosity was majestic. And despite a hiccup on the final green at Royal Sydney (and a brain fade on one hole at the World Cup) we a will always fondly remember the ‘Summer of Scott’, it could be a huge turning point in the history of golf in Australia.

Australian golf has an exciting (near) future
Just over a decade ago, people wondered where the next batch of young Australian golfers were but after the last month it’s obvious where and who our next stars are. Bryden MacPherson, Brady Watt, Ryan Ruffels, Anthony Murdaca and Cameron Davis are just some of the names coming to tournament leaderboards in the next few years.

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John Senden, Rhein Gibson and Bryden MacPherson are heading to Royal Liverpool
An extra interesting sideshow was going on at Royal Sydney yesterday with the three top golfers not already qualified earning a spot in next year’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Club. With Scott and McIlroy already assured a berth in the field, the spots went to John Senden (who will play in his eighth Open), Rhein Gibson and Bryden MacPherson.

Gibson is well-known for carding an incredible 16-under par 55 last year and the 2014 Open Championship will mark his first major appearance. MacPherson played in last year’s event but the 23-year-old will be better for the experience and is fast becoming one of Australia’s best young golfers.

Australian tournament golf is back
Tournament golf in Australia was a lot like Schrödinger’s Cat in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. No one knew if it was dead or alive and whether the grand heights of the 1970’s and 1980’s would ever return.

I’d hesitate to say it’s anywhere near the same stature of the days when the Australian Open was considered the fifth major; Adam Scott’s success combined with huge galleries puts it in a very healthy place right now. It’s very much alive.

Huge crowds follow the final pairing of McIlroy and Scott at Royal Sydney.
Huge crowds follow the final pairing of McIlroy and Scott at Royal Sydney.

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