Sydney, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Rory McIlroy returned to the winner's circle on Sunday, firing a 6-under-par 66 to edge Adam Scott by a single stroke at the Australian Open.
Trailing Scott by four strokes entering the final round, McIlroy stormed to his first win of 2013 behind a bogey-free day at Royal Sydney Golf Club, which included a decisive birdie at the last to finish the event at 18-under-par 270.
"Since the end of September I've just felt in a better place, a better place mentally with some things off the course," said the former world No. 1 McIlroy.
Scott, meanwhile, bogeyed the last for a final-round 71 and a second-place finish at 17-under 271. He was attempting to secure the Australian triple crown, having already won the Australian PGA and Taliskar Masters this year. Still, Scott did manage to wrap up the PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit title, his second since turning professional in 2000.
"I'm gutted," said Scott. "I felt like I never had a better chance to win the Aussie Open, but it was tight the whole back nine."
The three spots up for grabs in the 2014 Open Championship went to John Senden, Bryden Macpherson and Rhein Gibson. Senden (66) grabbed solo third at 11-under, while Macpherson (69) and Gibson (69) shared fourth place at minus-9.
Despite a bogey-birdie start, Scott's 4-shot overnight lead remained intact early, as McIlroy opened with four straight pars.
At the fifth, McIlroy began to make his move, draining a 5-footer for birdie. After a par at the sixth, the two-time major champion dropped his second shot at the par-5 seventh within 10 feet and drained the eagle putt. He squared things at the next, rolling home an 8-footer for birdie and the tie at minus-16.
Scott parred six in a row from the third, but he answered with a birdie at No. 9 to move ahead by one at the turn.
Both players birdied the 13th, allowing Scott to retain his 1-stroke advantage entering the last, but the reigning Masters champion tripped to a bogey there, and McIlroy birdied from 12 feet to clinch an overdue return to the winner's circle.
"Golf's a long career and I'm 24 years old," McIlroy said. "I get a little impatient at times and if I actually just took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, it hasn't been too bad a year."