Thrilled Purdy takes first PGA title

Ted Purdy won the first title of his United States PGA career, firing a five-under par 65 in Texas on Sunday to win the Byron Nelson Championship and deny Vijay Singh a return to the world number-one ranking.

Purdy, who began the week 116th on this year’s US PGA money list and 173rd in the rankings, finished 72 holes on 15-under-par 265 to defeat fellow American Sean O’Hair by one stroke at the $5,8-million event.

“It feels great,” Purdy said. “It hasn’t sunk in it. I played flawless.
I won on the PGA Tour. This was my dream my whole life. I’ve been all over the world playing. This is the pinnacle.”

Fiji’s Singh, needing a solo third-place effort or better to overtake Tiger Woods and reclaim the top-ranking spot, settled for a share of third with Americans Bob Tway and Doug Barron on 269.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said of the rankings. “I’m not concerned about that any more. Whatever happens, happens.”

Singh bounced in the event’s first ace in three years on the par-three 17th, his first hole in one since the 1996 PGA Championship, and birdied 18 on his way to a final-round 65.

He used a seven-iron from 195 yards at 17, and while the shot looked good, he said he wasn’t holding his breath after what happened to him at the same hole on Saturday.

“It was a good shot, just like yesterday’s,” he said. “Yesterday, it went over the green, today it went in. I was just hoping I’d picked the right club. I was going at the flag, obviously, trying to get it as close as possible, and I couldn’t get it any closer.”

Purdy’s best prior finish was second at the 2004 Heritage Classic, losing a five-hole play-off to Stewart Cink, and last year’s BC Open, where he missed a three-foot birdie putt on the last hole to lose by a shot.

Purdy (31) birdied the third hole to begin a run of four birdies in nine holes, all on par-fours. He added a birdie at the par-five 16th hole to grab a three-stroke edge and finished with a pair of pars to all but seal victory.

Purdy took a while to break through for his first victory on the PGA Tour—82 events—but those who know his game suspected it would happen sooner or later.

“This is sweet. I had good chances a couple of times last year, and I don’t think I would have been able to pull it off today without those previous failures,” Purdy said. “You need to fail before you succeed. There aren’t too many people like Tiger Woods who have won everything since they were two years old.”

US PGA newcomer O’Hair, the tour’s second-youngest player at age 22, began the round with a one-stroke lead but offset his two birdies on the front nine with two bogeys before the turn as well.

O’Hair, 324th in the world rankings, followed a birdie at the 13th with a bogey at 14 as Purdy pulled away. O’Hair birdied the 16th, but missed a 25-foot birdie bid at the 16th.

When O’Hair’s pitching-wedge effort for eagle from the 18th fairway landed 15 feet to the right of the hole, Purdy’s triumph was secured, making him the fifth first-time winner on the US PGA Tour this season.

O’Hair sank the putt, completing a final round 68 and trimming Purdy’s final margin to one stroke.

“The ball-striking wasn’t there,” O’Hair said. “I missed a few shots to the left, and that’s my nemesis, so I think it was a good round. I didn’t think I had the experience yet to be in this situation.”

O’Hair’s consolation prize of $669 600 locked up his exempt status for next year, while Purdy received $1 116 000 dollars to jump to 13th on this year’s PGA Tour money list.

Purdy was so thrilled he said he would name his new arrival after the tournament host.

“I have a new baby on the way and if it’s a boy, I’m going to name him Byron,” he said.—Sapa-AFP

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