MELBOURNE - Adam Scott's hopes of a second Australian Open crown crumbled in the heat and wind on Melbourne's 'Sandbelt' on Sunday as Polish trailblazer Adrian Meronk coolly closed out a five-stroke win in style at Victoria Golf Club.
With the title sewn up, Meronk drained a 40-foot eagle putt from off the 18th green in a four-under 66 to finish with a 14-under total of 268 in the A$1.7 million ($1.15 million) tournament co-sanctioned with Europe's DP World Tour.
South Africa's Ashleigh Buhai won the women's component of the inaugural dual gender event by a stroke from Shin Jiyai, the South Korean missing a five-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.
The men's final round was a shoot-out between Scott and the towering Meronk, Poland's first winner on the European tour with his breakthrough at the Irish Open in July.
With a one-stroke overnight lead over Meronk and huge galleries in his corner, former world number one Scott had been in pole position to claim his country's most prestigious golf trophy, 13 years after his first at New South Wales Golf Club.
But back-to-back bogeys from the seventh hole had him fall three strokes behind before a double-bogey on the 17th after a disastrous tee-shot put paid to his tournament.
It was a disappointing day for home fans at the event's return after a three-year absence due to COVID-19, with Australian young gun Grace Kim also falling short in the women's event.
Kim had worked her way into a share of the lead in the final holes but a double-bogey on the 18th dropped her to fourth on nine-under, three strokes shy of British Open winner Buhai.
Buhai wobbled with bogeys on 14 and 16 but steadied with a birdie on the 17th to card a one-over 73 for a 12-under total of 277 for the tournament.
($1 = 1.4730 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Lincoln Feast)