SYDNEY (AP) – Jordan Spieth sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to beat local hopes Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall and capture his second Australian Open title.
Spieth, the former world No. 1, had to sink another clutch par putt on the 18th hole at Royal Sydney to join Smith and Hall at 12-under 276 after 72 holes, forcing a three-way playoff.
Four players held the lead at various times on a dramatic final day, including Spieth, who was playing the Australian Open for the third time. He also has a runner-up finish (2015) to go along with his two wins in 2014 and 2016.
Hall and Smith both shot 6-under rounds of 66 on Sunday to finish tied for second.
On the playoff hole – the 18th – Spieth put his approach to within 10 feet before Hall stepped up the pressure by knocking his to less than 8 feet.
The 23-year-old Spieth then showed the composure that won him the Masters and U.S. Open titles last year when he calmly sank his putt while Hall pushed his birdie attempt right of the cup.
“The way we played the playoff, I think is going to do wonders for me,” Spieth said. “To hit those two shots in there (today), right where I wanted to hit them and then make the putt is really big going forward.”
Smith and Hall had some consolation as they secured starts at next year’s British Open at Royal Birkdale, as did two-time Australian Open champion Aaron Baddeley, who finished in a five-way tie for fourth at 10-under.
“I had a chance and that’s all I can ask for,” Hall said. “I was pretty close to getting a job in a couple weeks, no idea what. … I’ve got a couple young kids, so I have to keep money flowing in.”
“I’m going to keep playing golf now,” he added. “Especially now, I’ve got a pretty important tournament to play in July.”
Baddeley closed with a one-under 71 and edged out Rod Pampling (70), Jason Scrivener (69), New Zealander Ryan Fox (71) and third-round leader Geoff Ogilvy (73) for the spot at the British Open by virtue of his superior world ranking.
Ogilvy started the day with a two-stroke lead before Spieth made two birdies on his first two holes to go in front.
Ogilvy then chipped in for an eagle on the seventh hole to restore a two-shot margin and extended the lead to three shots before his round unraveled with a bogey on the par-4 15th and a double-bogey on the par-5 16th.
The former U.S. Open champion finished with a 73.