GOLD COAST, Australia >> American Kelly Slater won the opening event of this year’s men’s surfing world tour by beating defending champion Taj Burrow of Australia in the last seconds of the Quiksilver Pro final Wednesday.
While Burrow earned the highest single wave score of 7.17 on his final ride, 10-time world champion Slater won overall 11.20 to 10.17 to become the first man to win the Quiksilver Pro three times.
Both men struggled to post a decent score throughout the decider at Snapper Rocks, and with just 10 minutes remaining the contest was still open. Burrow and Slater repeatedly fell off waves with some scoring potential.
Portugal’s Tiago Pires and South African Jordy Smith shared third-place.
Slater, 39, would not be drawn on whether he plans to contest the full season in a bid for an 11th world crown.
"There’s no decision that’s the wrong one," he said. "I’ll just go with how I feel and stick with that."
Slater will compete at the next world tour competition — the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in Victoria state from April 19.
Burrow was bitterly disappointed in his performance, which he said was his lowest-ever score in a major event. Apart from his final ride, Burrow could only manage a 3.00 for his best other effort.
"You don’t often have a three as your backup wave in a final," Burrow said. "All I’m looking forward to is throwing on my steamer (wet suit) and heading down to Bells."