Niemann makes history as first South American winner of the Australia Open

Spots for The Open at Troon for Niemann, Rikuya Hoshino and Adam Scott as Dubai-based Meronk grabs another Top-10 finish

By KT Golf

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LIV Golf's Joaquin Niemann wins the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. - Supplied photo
LIV Golf's Joaquin Niemann wins the ISPS HANDA Australian Open. - Supplied photo

Published: Mon 4 Dec 2023, 11:10 AM

Joaquin Niemann beat Rikuya Hoshino in a sudden death play-off to become the first South American winner of the ISPS HANDA Australian Open on the DP World Tour.

The Chilean holed a seven-foot eagle putt across the 18th green on the second extra hole as rain began to fall to win the Stonehaven Cup at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.

South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai retained the title in the women's Australian Open, being played in parallel on the same course, by holding off Australia's Minjee Lee to win by a single stroke on nine-under despite shooting a three-over-par 75.

Niemann, who began the final day four shots adrift of overnight co-leader Hoshino, posted a five under par 66 to set the clubhouse target at 14 under which was later matched by the Japanese as he carded a one under 70.

Both players made birdie on the first play-off hole at the 18th, with Hoshino getting up and down from a greenside bunker before Niemann saw an eagle putt from five feet slide past.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai poses with the women’s trophy after the Australian Open. - AFP
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai poses with the women’s trophy after the Australian Open. - AFP

Despite Hoshino again doing well to make a birdie after going bunker-bunker for the second time in succession, Niemann sealed victory after another fine approach shot.

The win for Niemann, who plays the LIV Golf Tour, is his first on the DP World Tour and sees him become just the second Chilean to do so after Felipe Aguilar.

“It was a nice day. These last two play-off holes showed how I have been playing the last few weeks here in Australia,” said Niemann.

“My putting hasn't been the best, but I've been working hard on it and it was nice to make that last putt.

“I always practice those three, four, five-feet ones and know that one of those will be to win a tournament. It's amazing.”

Australian fan favourite Min Woo Lee finished solo third two shots back after a 72 as he missed out on becoming just the seventh player to win the Australian PGA Championship and Australian Open in the same year.

Adam Scott finished a shot further back in a tie for fourth at 11 under alongside Grant Forrest and Laurie Canter after the Masters winner carded a closing 68.

With Lee already qualified for The 152nd Open at Royal Troon next year, Scott joined Niemann and Hoshino in securing the third and final qualifying spot in the starting field

due to his higher standing on the Official World Golf Ranking than British pair Forrest and Canter.

By virtue of his second runner-up finish in as many weeks in Australia on the DP World Tour's Opening Swing, Hoshino leads the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex.

Dubai based Adrian Meronk (Pol), the defending champion, with rounds of 73, 68, 69 and 66, for a total of 276, with a brilliant five birdie 31 on his final nine holes, finished in tied eighth.

Meronk told Khaleej Times: “This is my last event of 2023. It has been a hugely satisfying year for so many reasons.

“Another top 10 performance this week. I will put the golf clubs away for a little while, put my feet up and start planning my schedule for 2024 along with my manager Richard Rayment from Spotlight The Agency.

“A big year ahead in 2024 with my PGA Tour privileges and so much more.”

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