Adrian Meronk has penned another chapter in golf’s history books as the first Polish player to win the Australian Open after romping to a five-stroke victory in Melbourne.
The emerging European star captured the Stonehaven Cup in style with an eagle at the 72nd hole in a closing four-under-par 66 at Victoria Golf Club on Sunday.
Meronk denied his self-confessed childhood idol Adam Scott a second Open trophy, 13 years after his first, as Australia’s third-round leader finished with a disappointing two-over 74.
Min Woo Lee (69) was outright third a further shot back at nine under to secure a not insignificant consolation prize of a ticket to next year’s British Open at Royal Liverpool.
The top three finishers not otherwise exempt gained entry to the 151st Open.
Meronk and Scott had already qualified, leaving Spaniard Alejandro Canizares (64) and Lee’s fellow West Australian Haydn Barron (68) to snare the other two spots after sharing fourth at seven under.
But the day belonged to Meronk.
Six months after winning the Irish Open to become the first Pole to triumph on the DP World Tour, Meronk joined legends like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Greg Norman and Scott in etching his name on the Stonehaven Cup.
“I’m super excited and to finish like that on the 18th hole is just unreal,” the 29-year-old said. “I’m so grateful.”
Meronk started the day one shot behind Scott and relishing the chance to duel with a player he idolised growing up.
With a birdie on the first and bogey from Scott, Meronk seized the lead on a two-stroke swing. Scott briefly regained a share of the lead with successive birdies on holes four.
But Meronk refused to relinquish his advantage for a second time after Scott posted back-to-back bogeys at nine and 10.
Lee threatened to turn the two-way battle into a three-man tussle with an eagle two after driving the par-4 first to briefly reduce the deficit to two strokes.
But he never recovered after ruefully missing a birdie putt from inside a metre on the fifth, then taking bogey on No.8 to slip four shots behind Meronk heading to the turn.