Golf: Scott primed for McIlroy showdown after Aussie Masters near-miss

MELBOURNE (AFP) - Adam Scott said his near-miss at Sunday's Australian Masters has primed him for his showdown with world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at this week's Australian Open.

A duel between the world's top two golfers is looming at The Australian course in Sydney after McIlroy pipped Scott on the final hole to win the Open title last year.

Scott went within a lipped-out 60-foot birdie putt on the last hole of forcing a play-off with Australian winner Nick Cullen on Sunday, as he sought a record-breaking third consecutive Australian Masters title.

The 2013 US Masters champion lamented his opening round of one-over 73 which in the end cost him, but he was certain the Masters had set him up to play closer to his best at the national Open.

"I felt my game got better every day this week, which is a positive sign for me and certainly looking ahead for the next few weeks," said Scott, after shooting a final-round four-under-par 68 to be tied second on 280, one shot behind Cullen (69) at Melbourne's Metropolitan course.

"Today was definitely the best I've swung the club, putted and chipped. I did everything well and hopefully that will continue."

Scott felt his game was better suited to the Open's venue, The Australian, although he had only played there once as a amateur plus a few social rounds.

"I just remember it as a long, tough, demanding golf course and that suits me," he said.

"If it's that way and I get to hit the driver a bit more, then it's certainly to my advantage."

McIlroy was playing in the World Tour Championship in Dubai over the weekend, where he was four strokes behind the third-round leader, before flying to Australia.

It was Cullen's biggest win of his career and he collected a cheque of A$180,000 (S$203,000) to go with his gold jacket.

The Masters, whose roll call of past winners includes Scott, Greg Norman, Ian Poulter, Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Colin Montgomerie, has fallen on hard times, with organisers unable to entice leading international stars to play.

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