A week after Dean Burmester added his name to the list of entrants at Royal Troon, Joaquin Niemann won the ISPS Handa Australian Open in a playoff over Rikuya Hoshino, who finished runner-up Down Under for the second consecutive week.
Hoshino led by four strokes going into play on Sunday, but Niemann’s 66 brought them into a tie after 72 holes at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney.
Rain began to fall as the two began their playoff, and both carded a birdie on the 18th hole. In playing the 18th again for the second playoff hole, Hoshino had another makeable birdie putt lined up, but Niemann had a terrific approach and holed a 7-foot putt for eagle to win the tournament.
“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 practice those three, four, five-feet ones and know that one of those will be to win a tournament. It’s amazing.”
The Chilean becomes the second person from that country to win on the DP World Tour (Felipe Aguilar) and the first South American to win the Australian Open. Niemann was in the clubhouse watching Hoshino and Alex Fitzpatrick. A trio of bogeys took Fitzpatrick out of the running, while Hoshino tied for the lead with a birdie on 17. His 25-footer for the win on 18 came up short, sending the pair back to the 18th tee.
Niemann, who was playing in this DP World Tour event because it was co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour of Australasia, now will be a part of the field in 2024’s final major. As part of The Open Qualifying Series, the top-three finishers who weren’t otherwise exempt earned a spot at The Open.
Niemann was a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, last winning The Genesis Invitational in February 2022, before joining the LIV circuit this season. He was winless on LIV this year, so this marked his first pro win in 2023.
Despite the loss, Hoshino’s consolation prize is a trip to the United Kingdom next year. Adam Scott, who tied for fourth with Laurie Canter and Grant Forrest, was the third qualifier based on their positioning in the Official World Golf Ranking.
In third place was Min Woo Lee, the Australian who won last week’s Australian PGA Championship and fell two shots short of joining Niemann and Hoshino in the playoff. Lee has already qualified for The Open, however, so that opened the door for Scott to get in.
The DP World Tour split the first two weeks of its 2024 season in Australia and South Africa, but next week, the only event is the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. Ockie Strydom won last year’s event by two strokes over Adrian Otaegui, but the big story will be Dean Burmester going for his third win in as many weeks in his home country.
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