MELBOURNE, Australia — Adam Scott shot a scrambling even-par 71 on Sunday for a two-shot victory and a successful defense of his Australian Masters title at wind-swept Royal Melbourne.
American Matt Kuchar, who led by two strokes with four to play, double-bogeyed the 18th after taking two shots to get out of a bunker and finished second after a 68.
Vijay Singh finished third after a 71, four behind Scott. He was attempting to win his first tournament since 2008.
Scott, who won last week’s Australian PGA in his first tournament back in Australia after winning the Masters in April, had a four-round total of 14-under 270.
Kuchar held a two-stroke lead until Scott birdied the 15th and the American bogeyed the 16th. A hole earlier, a birdie and Scott’s double-bogey after a plugged lie in a bunker gave Kuchar his two-stroke lead.
Scott’s faltering on the back nine revived memories of the 2012 British Open when he bogeyed the final four holes to lose by a shot, but this time he came out a winner.
“I usually like looking at the leaderboard, but it wasn’t enjoyable today,” Scott said of the numerous lead changes. “I made a lot of errors, but I managed to hang on.”
His day got off to an ominous start. His birdie putt from three feet lipped out while Singh had a tap-in birdie to reduce the lead to three, but a Singh bogey on the second restored the four-shot gap.
While Scott and Singh dueled in the final group, Kuchar, who will team with Kevin Streelman for the United States at next week’s World Cup, also at Royal Melbourne, moved up the leaderboard.
The American bogeyed the first hole, but birdies on five of the next eight holes left him as Scott’s closest pursuer. He birdied the 11th and then the 15th to take the lead for the first time in the tournament before his late collapse.
Scott will partner Jason Day for Australia at the World Cup.
Jarrod Lyle, playing in his first tournament in 20 months since his recovery from his second bout of leukemia, finished with an 8-over 79, including bogeys on his final three holes. He didn’t expect to make the cut.
At the 18th, the large gallery applauded, even playing partner Michael Long, as Lyle walked gingerly around the green.
“I played five days in a row, including the pro-am, and the last nine holes I started to feel it,” Lyle said. “I got around, and it’s not the end I wanted. But it’s better than I thought it would be: three good rounds and one shocker, that’s golf.”