Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Rod Pampling wins The International

PRO GOLF TOUR The Australian slipped in a 6.3m eagle putt from the fringe on the 17th hole to move past Alex Cejka and win his first PGA event as Chris DiMarco faded

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Jack Vickers, left, and other committee members look on as Rob Pampling holds the trophy after winning The International at Castle Pines in Castle Rock, Colorado, Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Holeouts, eagles and strings of birdies typically decide The International.

Not this year. With the winds swirling and the pins tucked, Australian Rod Pampling pulled off just enough good shots to win his first PGA Tour event.

Pampling curled in a 6.3m eagle putt from the fringe on the 17th hole to move past Alex Cejka and win The International on Sunday.

"It was just a matter of hanging in there," said Pampling, the sixth first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year.

The difference, as usual, was the 448m, 17th hole.

Pampling stepped to the tee trailing Cejka by three points in the tournament's modified Stableford scoring system. After a big drive, Pampling hit a 7-iron onto the fringe just right of the flag. He then curled in the putt, pumping his fist as it dropped for five points.

Pampling closed with a par to finish with 31 points, taking home the US$900,000 first-place check and some momentum heading into the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Not bad for a player best known for leading the first round of the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie and missing the cut the next day.

"I just keep myself in the present," said Pampling, who won an Australasian event in 1999 for his only other professional victory. "I knew I could celebrate after I had finished my job."

Tom Pernice was third with 27 points, and Duffy Waldorf had 26 to finish fourth.

Chris DiMarco had a commanding nine-point lead after scoring 31 points the first two rounds, only to see it slip away with eight bogeys in a third round that dropped him into a tie with Pampling.

DiMarco's collapse left 17 players within 10 points of the lead -- two eagles in this format -- and gave every one of the 44 players who made the cut a chance heading into a potentially wild final round.

There was plenty of wildness, but not the kind that normally comes in a format that awards players up to 8 points for a double eagle. With the course playing to a stroke average of 74 -- the fifth-highest final round on the PGA Tour this year -- The International's typical soundtrack of cheers and roars was replaced by groans and moans.

Meg Mallon stood over the decisive putt and had to steady herself.

Then the US Women's Open champion rolled the 3m birdie putt into the middle of the cup on the final hole to touch off a wild celebration, beating Karen Stupples and defending champion Pak Se-ri by a shot Sunday at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.

"I was set over that putt and I was thinking, `I've won the US Open. I don't get nervous.' But I'll tell you what, I was nervous," Mallon said after closing with a 3-under 68 for a 7-under 277. "My hands were shaking, I was breathing hard. But that's exactly what you play for. For all that was going on, it's all about controlling your nerves."

Mallon's third victory of the year, worth US$165,000, was the 18th of her career.

Stupples and Pak narrowly missed birdie putts at the 18th that would have forced a playoff.

Rachel Teske had a 68 and finished fourth at 279, and Lorie Kane closed with a 70 for a 280 total.

Pak, who won the Farr in 1998-1999, 2001 and 2003, was trying to match Mickey Wright run of winning an event five times. She won the Sea Island Open in 1957-1958, 1960-1961 and 1963.

Tom Kite made three birdies over the final seven holes in a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory at the 3M Championship and his first Champions Tour victory in 21 months on Sunday.

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