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Joaquin Niemann beats Rikuya Hoshino in play-off to win in Australia

Joaquin Niemann beats Rikuya Hoshino in play-off to win in Australia

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

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 on Sunday.

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 an down from a greenside bunker before Niemann saw an eagle putt from five feet slide past. 

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 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 playoff 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 practise 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.

After the second of back-to-back co-sanctioned events with the PGA Tour of Australasia on the DP World Tour's Opening Swing, Lee sits first on the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex with Hoshino just behind him after his second runner-up finish in as many weeks.

In the women's event, South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai finished a shot ahead of home favourite Minjee Lee to successfully defend her title, while Lachlan Wood won the G4D Tour’s season-opening ISPS HANDA Australian All Abilities Championship on Saturday.

The three champions in Sydney pose with their trophies

Niemann, a two-time winner on the PGA TOUR, teed off in the final round a full hour before the final group and the early signs didn't suggest he would emerge the winner.

The 25-year-old made the turn in one under par as he climbed to ten under, but it was former World Number One Scott who was generating the early interest.

As overnight leaders Hoshino and Lee struggled to produce their best on the front nine, Scott climbed into a four-way tie for the lead alongside Lee, Hoshino and Lucas Herbert with his eighth birdie of the day at the sixth - his 15th having started at the tenth.

But as he threatened to claim his first worldwide win since the Genesis Invitational in February 2020, the local star made a costly triple bogey at the seventh following an errant tee shot, while Herbert's hopes of a home victory were all but ended with a triple bogey at the ninth.

Niemann emerged from the pack as a fourth birdie of his back nine at the 16th saw him open up a two-shot lead, before he bounced back from his first blemish of the day at the 17th with a two-putt birdie at the 72nd hole to reach 14 under.

But with the final group of Hoshino, Lee and Alex Fitzpatrick all still harbouring claims of victory, the Chilean faced an anxious wait.

With Lee unable to build any momentum on the back nine and Fitzpatrick dropping out of contention with three bogeys in a six-hole stretch, Hoshino drew level again with a long-range downhill birdie putt at the 17th.

But he was unable to conjure a birdie on the 72nd hole for victory as his 25-footer came up short for pace, resulting in the first play-off of the new DP World Tour season.

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