Amateur wins Sydney Open

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The Independent Online

Aaron Baddeley became the first amateur in 39 years and the youngest in history to win the Australian Golf Open in Sydney.

Aaron Baddeley became the first amateur in 39 years and the youngest in history to win the Australian Golf Open in Sydney.

The 18-year-old Australian played fearless golf to win by two strokes from five-times winner Greg Norman and fellow Australian Nick O'Hern.

But Baddeley turned his back on a winner's cheque worth around £80,000.

If Baddeley had accepted the hefty cash carrot it would have meant losing his amateur status - something he is unwilling to give up.

He said: "Hopefully, when I turn professional I won't have to worry about money. The money is not a problem. As long as I am holding trophies, the money doesn't count."

The unflappable Baddeley, the first amateur to win the Australian Open since Bruce Devlin in 1960, finished with a three-under-par 69 for a four round total of 14-under 274.

His achievement was all the more remarkable because he beat Norman and seven-times European Order of Merit champion Colin Montgomerie, who finished fourth.

"I've been dreaming about winning the Australian Open for the last couple of months and today I actually did it," added Baddeley.

"I didn't look at the leader board today until the 12th hole, all week I have been focusing on the one shot at a time. All I can do is play the best I can and I can't control what anyone else does."

Baddeley's composure and nerveless play greatly impressed his big-name rivals, with Norman even going so far as to place him in the same bracket as Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia.

"I am extremely impressed with Aaron's performance, to say the least," said Norman. "He has a lot of composure and has that gleam in his eye of a player who will be hard to beat."

But despite all the heady plaudits, Baddeley's father is sticking with the family intention to keep his son in amateur ranks, insisting he has learnt from the mistake made by Justin Rose.

"At the earliest we would start thinking about it next August and that would be after he has come back from the United States," said Ron Baddeley.

Rose switched to professionalism at 17 after finishing fourth in the Open and endured more than 20 missed cuts in pro tournaments.

"Justin Rose I almost weep for," said Baddeley senior. "Aaron had a game with him last year at the Australian Open where he missed the cut and if I had been his father there is no way I would have ever put him into the position of turning professional at 17 years old. The kid hasn't even grown up."

Leading final-round scores and totals in the Australian Open at Royal Sydney, Australia (Aus unless stated, par 72):

274 A Baddeley 67 68 70 69276 G Norman 70 73 64 69, N O'Hern 68 68 70 70277 P McGinley (Irl) 67 70 69 71, M Long (Nzl) 70 68 68 71, C Montgomerie (Sco) 72 67 67 71278 M Campbell (Nzl) 69 65 74 70279 P Lonard 73 66 70 70280 S Webster (Eng) 73 72 72 63281 G Ogilvy 70 69 69 73282 S Gardiner 68 73 72 69, P O'Malley 71 67 70 74, P Gow 64 72 70 76283 J Moseley 66 72 73 72, C Spence 69 70 73 71

Selected others:

284 N Faldo (Eng) 68 74 73 69287 D Howell (Eng) 69 72 76 70, A Wall (Eng) 69 68 72 78288 J Van de Velde (Fra) 71 73 75 69289 R Russell (Sco) 70 73 76 70291 D Tapping (Eng) 71 72 72 76292 T Bjorn (Den) 71 70 75 76294 T Dier (Ger) 71 74 78 71298 R Johnson (USA) 73 72 75 78