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Golf Tidbits: Late season drama Down Under

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Updated: 12/02/2013 3:37 pm

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - All I hear from friends and family this time of year is, "Isn't golf over yet?"

Unfortunately, it seems as though golf never ends. To be precise, the Royal Trophy, which pits Europe against Asia, will be the final major tour event contested in 2013.

That event runs from December 20-22. The PGA Tour continues its' wrap-around season on Friday, January 3. Think you can live those 11 days without live golf?

If you can't, maybe Golf Channel can replay some of the best events of the year. One of them took place in Australia over the weekend.

Adam Scott was going for the Australian Triple Crown. He already won the Australian PGA and Talisker Masters. If he could win the Australian Open, he'd become the second player to sweep those three events in one year.

Nick O'Hern turned the trick in 2005, but is far from the player Scott is. O'Hern finished that season ranked 22nd in the world.

Scott, the reigning Masters champion, is currently second in the world. A win at Royal Sydney would have moved him within 1.50 average points of world No. 1 Tiger Woods.

The Australian took control right away as he opened on Thursday with a 10- under 62. He followed with a 70, and was paired with world No. 6 Rory McIlroy for the third round.

Scott carded a 68 in round three and extended his lead to four entering the final round. McIlroy shot 70 and remained in the final group with Scott.

As they started the final round, Scott traded a bogey for a birdie from the first. McIlroy trimmed the deficit to one with a birdie on the fifth and an eagle on the par-5 seventh.

McIlroy forged a tied at 16-under when he birdied the eighth. Scott answered with a birdie on the ninth. Both players birdied the 13th as Scott stayed one clear with five holes to go.

Four consecutive pars later, it came down to the par-4 18th. Scott 'misjudged' the wind and went over the green. McIlroy dropped his approach to 15 feet.

If McIlroy were to make, all Scott needed was to get up and down for par to force a playoff. After chipping on, Scott failed to convert his par-saving putt.

McIlroy did not miss. He poured in the birdie putt to win for the first time in just over one year.

Even in late November, there can be exciting golf between two of the worlds best. Though it was televised here in the United States, I'm sure plenty of you missed out on the drama.

McIlroy then flew halfway around the world and will compete in Tiger Woods' event this weekend in California. Some may look at it as a money grab, but guys like Graeme McDowell have used the event as a springboard for the next season.

This is what we used to consider a silly season event. But with big money and world ranking points available, there is nothing silly about Tiger's event.

Who knows? There might be even more drama this week.

SCHWARTZEL ENDS THE SEASON AS HE STARTED IT

Charl Schwartzel started his 2012-13 season with first-, second- and third- place finishes. As the season comes to a close, his last two results were a share of fourth and a win.

The bookend victories were at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. That might not mean much to the average golf fan, but it is the second time Schwartzel has repeated as champion at an event.

Schwartzel won the Joburg Open in 2010 and repeated the following year. After that second win, he went on to win the Masters. I'm not saying he's going to do that again this spring, but the formula is there.

Unfortunately for the South African, he only had two other top-4 finishes the rest of 2013. Since winning the Masters in 2011, his only other worldwide wins came on the Asian Tour and the OneAsia Tour.

Not exactly major championships there.

Regardless, Schwartzel will end the season ranked in the top 20 in the world. He'll be at least five spots higher than he was at the end of the 2011 season.

Maybe Schwartzel winning a second green jacket at Augusta isn't so far-fetched after all?

MINI-TIDBITS

* Steve Elkington is one of the more prolific tweeters on golfers. His sense of humor and poor timing are going to cost him a lot of money if he isn't careful. He tweeted a poorly timed joke about a helicopter crash in Scotland over the weekend. This wasn't his first misstep with social media. Maybe he should step away from twitter for a little while.

* Bubba Watson recently shot 81 at a club in California. It wasn't a tough day for the former Masters champion as he shot 81 with one club. Many of us wish we were that good.

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