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02 Apr 2012 08:44
US player Hunter Mahan fired a final-round 71 on Sunday to win the US PGA Tour’s $6-million Houston Open by one stroke over Sweden’s Carl Pettersson.
Mahan, who won the elite World Golf Championships Match Play Championship in February, became the first two-time winner on the US tour this year.
The victory will boost the 29-year-old to fourth in the world rankings, sending him into the Masters, the first major tournament of the season that starts on Thursday at Augusta National, as the highest-ranked American.
“It feels great,” Mahan said. “I’m playing good.
I’m glad I’m going to Augusta, it’s really a special place and I’m looking forward to going there.”
Mahan’s one-under 71 at Redstone gave him a four-round total of 16-under 272.
Pettersson also posted a 71 for 273.
South African Louis Oosthuizen, who led by two strokes after the third round, had two double-bogeys in a three-over 75 that left him in third place on 274.
Pettersson, who closed his round with eight straight pars, notched his second runner-up finish of the year, but couldn’t get the victory he needed to secure a berth in the Masters.
Three-time major champion Ernie Els also needed a victory to earn an automatic invitation to Augusta.
“It’s not going to change my life, either way,” Els said. “I’ve played many out there. It’s one of those things.”
While the Masters could still offer Els a special invitation, he said he wouldn’t accept a last-minute invitation.
“To go through all of this, and then get an invite, I wouldn’t take it,” he said.
Mahan’s two birdies on the day came back-to-back at nine and 10. At the par-three ninth he drained a five-foot birdie putt.
When Pettersson missed his 19-foot birdie attempt at 10, Mahan had sole possession of the lead.
He gave a stroke back with a bogey from a greenside bunker at 14 then saved par from off the green at the par-three 16th, where his pitch on left him a two-footer.
Oosthuizen had opened the door early for those chasing him, starting with a three-putt bogey at the par-four second hole. He bounced back with a 45-foot birdie putt on three, but found a divot with his tee shot at the fifth and ended up missing the green.
After a poor chip he two-putted for a double-bogey.
At the par-five eighth he hit his approach shot into the scrub en route to a second double-bogey.—AFP
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