MELBOURNE, Australia — A superb 12-meter putt off the back of the last green for eagle was Adrian Meronk’s spectacular signature to his Australian Open triumph at Victoria Golf Club.
Meronk, allowed the luxury of strolling down the last hole with a three-shot lead, stretched the winning advantage to five shots to cap a superb 4-under 66 on Sunday.
It completed a relaxing week for Poland’s first winner as he stayed with relatives of his partner nearby and was able to walk to the course each day to shoot 73-66-63-66 to become the first European to win the title since Rory McIlroy in 2013.
South African Ashleigh Buhai fought off late challenges from young Australian Grace Kim and then playing partner, South Korea’s Jiyai Shin, to win the Australian Open women’s title by one shot. The women's competition was held concurrently with the men's tournament off alternate tees.
Englishman Kipp Popert authored a 10-stroke turnaround on the final day to win the third iteration of the Australian All Abilities Championship.
Meronk, who broke through with his Irish Open victory this year, was too steady for Australian playing partners Adam Scott and Min Woo Lee. Scott finished second at 9 under with Lee another shot back in third place.
“I’m super excited and to finish like that on the 18th hole is just unreal. I’m so grateful, thank you for all the support and I enjoyed this week so much,” Meronk said. “I felt really good again today. I kept doing what I’ve done the last two days and it worked pretty well. I’m super proud of myself, proud of my team and super happy right now.”
Buhai tapped in for par after watching Shin’s birdie attempt to force a play-off miss to the right of the cup and she added the title to her Women’s Open crown with a 12-under total.
It was a double family celebration for Buhai with husband Dave serving as her caddy. And also compensation after he couldn’t carry the bag during her British Open victory.
“It’s the cherry on the top I guess. And obviously last minute, to have Dave on the bag, it’s very special to be able to celebrate together,” Buhai said. “He was good today. It was a bit easier for him being inside the ropes than outside the ropes. You’re a little bit more in control. Got lots of friends and family here, it’s very cool.”
Shin edged out Australian Hannah Green by one shot for second place with Kim fourth at 9 under.