Dean Wilson earned his first US PGA Tour win with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff, topping Tom Lehman at the International golf tournament at Castle Pines on Sunday.
After Lehman barely missed wide on a 30-foot putt for birdie, Wilson sank a 6-footer to win the US$990,000 first-place prize. His best previous finish was a tie for third at the 2004 Valero Texas Open.
Lehman would've vaulted into seventh place in the Ryder Cup standings with a win. He is captain of the US team that will travel to Ireland next month to try to bring home the cup for the first time since 1999.
Lehman, who said he would have been reluctant to play for himself because of his putting game, nearly became the first Ryder Cup captain to win a US PGA Tour event during his term since Jack Nicklaus won the Masters in 1986. But his eagle putt on the par-5, 492-yard 17th hole in regulation was short.
Lehman, who hasn't won since the 2000 Phoenix Open, hit a 5-iron to within 15 feet on 17 and figured he had the five-point eagle in his pocket.
"It looked so fast," Lehman said of the green. "I was quite shocked I left it short. I hit a beautiful shot right on line. I didn't think there was any way I'd leave it short."
The ball stopped four inches shy of the hole, however, and his tap-in for birdie tied him with Wilson in the clubhouse at 34 points.
Under the special scoring system that is used nowhere else on the US PGA Tour, golfers at the International get five points for eagles, two for birdies, nothing for pars and minus-one for bogeys and minus-three for double-bogeys or worse.
Both Lehman and Wilson sank beautiful 2-foot putts on the 72nd hole. Steve Flesch nearly joined them in the playoff but he missed a 12-footer for birdie on 18.
Lehman and Wilson both parred No. 18 and headed to No. 9, where Lehman used an 8-iron from 175 yards and left his ball on the edge of the bunker, 30 feet from the flag. Wilson hit an 8-iron from 160 yards and his shot landed six feet away.
Wilson started the day in seventh place, five points behind leader Zach Johnson, and posted seven birdies and a bogey. Lehman started in fifth and had six birdies and two bogeys.
Flesch and Daisuke Maruyama tied for third place with 32 points, followed by Stewart Cink with 31.
Next year, the International moves up to the July 4 holiday weekend, a change that tournament founder Jack Vickers hopes will attract Tiger Woods to Castle Pines for the first time since 1999.
Ernie Els, however, said some overseas players, including himself, will find it hard to come back to the majestic mountain course at the foothills of the Rockies.
"It's going to help the American players. It's going to hurt the international players because that time of the year we've got some big tournaments in Europe," Els said. "So, it's going to hurt the tournament, I think."
Vowed Vickers: "We'll still be competitive."
One player who anticipates he'll return to Castle Pines despite a miserable final round on Sunday is Retief Goosen, last year's champion who had five bogeys and two double-bogeys over the last 18 holes and finished last among the 36 golfers who survived both of Saturday's cuts.