3 DECEMBER, 2023 - DP WORLD TOUR: Joaquin Niemann won the ISPS HANDA Australian Open after defeating Rikuya Hoshino in a thrilling playoff.

The Chilean started the final round at The Australian Golf Club four strokes behind 54-hole leaders Hoshino, of Japan, and home favourite Min Woo Lee and made a patient start to his round before moving up the leaderboard on the back nine.

He made a lone birdie on the fourth hole to make the turn one under on the day, then he carded five birdies and a bogey on the back nine to sign for a five under par 66 and a 14 under par total. He then had to wait more than an hour and a half for play to finish as Hoshino moved into a share of the lead with a birdie on the 17th.

The 27-year-old had a 25-foot putt on the last to win in regulation, but his effort fell short and he was set for extra holes with Niemann after signing for a one under par round of 70.

Both players birdied the first play-off hole, with Niemann lipping-out a four-foot eagle putt. The Chilean made no mistake at the second time of asking, as his second shot into the green set up another eagle effort. A birdie putt from Hoshino put the pressure on, but Niemann holed his putt to become the first player from Chile to win the Australian Open. “During the whole week I was driving really good, enjoying one of my best weeks off the tee. Then coming down the stretch I didn’t hit a good driver on 17 and on 18, I didn’t know if I was able to get on the play-off and did a few drivers on the range and I found something" said niemann.

“I just visualised my shot; the two drivers that I hit (in the play-off) were similar, almost the same driver. It was two drivers and other than that also hit a 184 to the pin I think on the first hole.  Was pumping downwind and I see maybe 15-20 yards of wind, I hit a nine iron, strayed to the left, the same line I wanted to hit it and then the putter; I was struggling with my right to left during the whole week. I got there and I had a right to left putt. I told Gary (Matthews, caddie) that I like it just outside, he say he’d like it a little less, I say I like it a little more. I hit a good putt, it just broke a lot more than I thought.

“Then déjà vu on the second play-off (hole). Everything was exactly the same. I hit the same driver, he hit it in the bunker, I hit it close, he made a putt for birdie. I thought ‘here we go again’ but I had a good stroke and had the read.”

It was the second week in a row that Hoshino finished runner-up on the DP World Tour as he continued his strong start to the 2024 Race to Dubai.

Min Woo Lee carded a one over par 72 to finish third on 12 under par, with Laurie Canter, Grant Forrest and Adam Scott sharing fourth place on 11 under. Scott held the outright lead on 14 under par as he made a final day charge, but a triple bogey on the par four seventh, his 16th hole, ended his title bid.

With their finishes at the ISPS HANDA Australian Open, Niemann, Hoshino and Scott have secured their places at The 152nd Open at Royal Troon through the Open Qualifying Series.

In the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open, played concurrently with the men’s event, Ashleigh Buhai successfully defended her title as she held off a final-day challenge from Australia’s Minjee Lee.

The South African carded a two over par final round 75, holding her nerve with a par at the last to finish on nine under.

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