Niemann Beats Hoshino In Playoff To Win Australian Open

SYDNEY (AP) — Joaquin Niemann of Chile beat Japan’s Rikuya Hoshino on the second playoff hole to win the Australian Open men’s title on a wild final day.

Niemann made an eagle at the second extra hole after a number of contenders slipped away on the back nine due to gusting winds at The Australian course on Sunday.

Starting the day four shots behind, Niemann — one of the big-name signings of the breakaway LIV Golf league — produced an excellent final-round 5-under-par 66 to finish at 14-under 271 as he surged up the leaderboard and took the clubhouse lead.

Hoshino, who was runner-up to Min Woo Lee at last week’s Australia PGA Championships, made a number of clutch putts on the final holes and closed with a 70 to make the playoff at 14 under.

Lee shot 72 and finished in third at 12 under after a frustrating day on the greens extinguished his hopes of winning in back-to-back weeks, despite sharing the overnight lead with Hoshino.

Former world No. 1 Adam Scott looked to be surging to an unlikely victory as he climbed to 14 under and into the outright lead with three holes remaining, but played his tee shot out of bounds on the par-4 seventh — after starting his round on the 10th — and was forced to settle for a triple bogey that ended his hopes.

Scott finished tied for fourth with England’s Laurie Carter (68) and Grant Forrest (68) of Scotland three shots behind the leaders at 11 under at the Sydney tournament that features men’s and women’s fields and is being played in a two-venue format.

Cam Smith’s quest for a maiden Australian Open title will need to wait for another year after he shot a final-round 70 to finish at 7 under and in a tie for 17th in a disappointing fortnight for the 2022 British Open champion, who also missed the cut at last week’s Australian PGA Championships.

Earlier, Ashleigh Buhai held off a fast-finishing Minjee Lee to become the first woman to win back-to-back Australian Open titles since five-time major champion Yani Tseng in 2011.

Buhai made 15 pars and three bogeys for a 75 to finish at 9-under 280 and one-stroke ahead of Lee in a nervy finish for the 34-year-old South African.

Trailing by four shots with five holes to play, Lee cut Buhai’s lead to just one heading to the last after the 2022 British Open champion found the water on the 17th.

However, a two-putt for par on No. 18 was enough for Buhai as Lee couldn’t find a ninth birdie in her excellent round of 69 in the challenging conditions.

Two-time major winner Jiyai Shin of South Korea had a tough day with a 77 as she slipped out of contention and into a tie for third with compatriot Jenny Shin at 4 under 285.

Local pair Hannah Green (70) and Stephanie Kyriacou (73) were tied for fifth a further shot back.