Rookie chalks up first US PGA victory

Sean O’Hair shot a six-under-par 65 on Sunday, holding off JL Lewis and Hank Kuehne to win the John Deere Classic for his first career United States PGA Tour victory.

The rookie, who turns 23 on Monday and was making only his 18th career start on the American tour, finished with a 16-under 268.

O’Hair recovered from trouble on the 18th when he nearly put his ball in the water. With the ball on the hazard line, O’Hair chipped within 10 feet to make par and then watched as his two closest challengers faded.

Kuehne and Lewis were two holes behind him, and both were at 15 under after 17. Lewis put his second shot at 18 in the water and Kuehne left a 24-foot birdie putt about two feet short, sealing the win for O’Hair.

Waiting by the scorer’s trailer, O’Hair hugged his wife, Jackie, who had followed him the entire day with their five-month-old daughter.
The victory also earned O’Hair a spot in next week’s British Open at St Andrews, but he said he isn’t sure yet if he is going to go.

Kuehne (68) and Robert Damron (67) finished one stroke behind O’Hair at 269. Lewis (72), defending champion Mark Hensby (64) and Wes Short (66) were at 270.

O’Hair, pushed by his father, Marc, to turn pro before graduating high school and who hasn’t spoken to his dad in two years, didn’t have a bogey in his last 60 holes. He already had three top-25 finishes this year, including runner-up at the Byron Nelson.

Lewis had been the second- and third-round leader, and said he knew he’d have to make five or six birdies to stay in the spot on Sunday. Instead, he had four birdies and five bogeys.

O’Hair moved into contention with a three-under 32 on the front nine, and recovered from stray shots on the back. On the par-five 10th, his second shot landed in a trap on the left side of the hole, as far away from the pin as he could get while still being on the same hole. But he blasted out within four feet, and knocked it in for a birdie.

Another birdie on 14 got him to 15 under and put him atop the leader board, a stroke ahead of Lewis. He added his final birdie on the par-five 17th, blasting out a greenside bunker to two feet and sinking the putt.—Sapa-AP

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