Sheehan scrambles to win Australasia opener

Sunday, January 9, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia - After a five-year drought, Paul Sheehan is back in the winner's circle after claiming the Victorian Open, Australasia's season opener, at Spring Valley Golf Club.

On Saturday, Sheehan made his move up the leaderboard, shooting 67 in windy conditions, but cemented his victory Sunday with a pedestrian 1-over 72 (276).

Hitting only five greens in regulation in the final round, Sheehan credited his putter for his first win since the 2006 Japan Open. The 33-year-old from Melbourne found the hole on a number of occasions from the far reaches of the greens.

“My putting and my chipping today was just unbelievable,” Sheehan said. “Every hole I had to work for my pars, and it was a real challenge.

“I've finished second in the Vic Open before – I've had a lot of seconds. . . . It's a great way to start the year.”

Gallery favorite Matthew Griffin, also from Melbourne, finished in second place – two shots back from Sheehan – after also carding a 72.

“It was close,” said Griffin, who is still chasing his first professional title. “The more you get in these positions, the better you get at it.”

Sheehan and Griffin share the same coach and are members at Royal Melbourne.

Tony McNaughton finished third at 5-under 279. Steve Jones and Aaron Townsend tied for fourth at 4-under 280.

James Nitties and Adam Crawford, who shot a best-of-the-day 67, tied for sixth at 1-under 283.