Amateur Steals Aussie Crown


Aaron Baddeley is the youngest champion in the 95-year history of the Australian Open and the first amateur winner in 39 years.

"I believed in my ability," said Baddeley, 18, who closed with a 3-under 69 Sunday for a two-stroke victory over fellow Australians Greg Norman and Nick O'Hern.

"I thought I could win. I played to the best of my ability and it was good enough. You dream about this. I dreamed I could win when I practiced here a few weeks ago."

Baddeley, born in the United States when his Australian father Ron worked briefly as a mechanic for IndyCar driver Mario Andretti, finished at 14-under 274 over the Royal Sydney course.

Baddeley is the first amateur winner since Bruce Devlin in 1960, and is six days younger than Ivo Whitton was when he won the 1912 tournament.

He opened with a 67 and added rounds of 68 and 70 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

Norman closed with a 69, and O'Hern shot a 70. Each earned $90,000, while Baddeley missed out on $115,000 because of his amateur status.

Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, Baddeley's playing partner Sunday, shot a 71 and tied for fourth with Ireland's Paul McGinley and New Zealand's Michael Long.

Montgomerie birdied the first two holes to tie Baddeley at 12 under, but the teen-ager regained the lead with a birdie at No. 3.

The Scot slipped back with a bogey at No. 5, and Baddeley opened a three-stroke lead when he topped Montgomerie's birdie at the par-5 seventh with an eagle.

Long, playing in the group ahead of Baddeley and Montgomerie, moved within a stroke of Baddeley with a birdie at No. 13.

But Baddeley responded again, holing a 15-foot birdie putt at No. 13, while Long bogeyed No. 14.

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