Tue, Aug 02, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Rookie Stallings wins maiden PGA

Reuters, New York

Scott Stallings reacts after making birdie on the first playoff hole to win the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

PHOTO: AFP

Rookie Scott Stallings held his nerve in dramatic fashion to win his maiden PGA Tour title in a playoff with fellow Americans Bob Estes and Bill Haas at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia on Sunday.

The 26-year-old, who sank a five-foot birdie putt at the final hole in regulation to join the playoff, birdied the same hole moments later to triumph for the first time on the US circuit.

Stallings threw both arms skywards in joyful celebration and then embraced his caddie after his curling seven-foot putt dropped into the cup at the par-three 18th.

The trio had finished the 72 regulation holes on 10-under-par 270 at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs — Estes closing with a six-under 64, Haas with a 67 and Stallings with a 69.

BIRDIES

Stallings, who had recorded only one top-10 in his previous 20 starts on the 2011 PGA Tour, was delighted to seal victory with successive birdies after he had bogeyed the penultimate hole in regulation.

Tied for the lead at 10 under after making birdies at the 10th, 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th, the inexperienced American slipped back with a bogey at the par-five 17th where his tee shot ended up in water.

“I felt really good going into 17,” Stalling said greenside after sinking his playoff putt. “I made a great birdie on 16 and then we had to wait about 30 minutes.

“I hit a bad shot (at 17) and got a bad break. I hit the tree and went in the water. But we stayed with it and we tried to make a par there and to birdie 18 like we did was incredible,” he said.

“I stayed in it all day. To come out as a champion on the PGA Tour as a rookie is a dream come true,” Stalling said.

Three-times PGA Tour champion Anthony Kim began the day one stroke clear of the field and his lead was briefly doubled when playing partner Stallings bogeyed the par-four first.

However, Kim was unable to convert several birdie chances early on the front nine before he bogeyed the eighth and ninth to trail the pacesetting Webb Simpson by two shots.

Simpson had birdied the fifth, sixth, eighth and ninth to reach the turn in two-under 34 and claim the outright lead at 10 under.

Moments later, though, he was joined at the top by Haas before Simpson slipped back with a three-putt bogey at the 10th.

Haas, who had birdied three of the first 10 holes, collected his first bogey of the day at the par-three 15th, where his tee shot ended up in thick greenside rough.

STROKE BEHIND

That dropped him into a five-way tie for second place, a stroke behind the fast-finishing Estes who birdied his last two holes for the day’s lowest round.

Stallings broke clear of the chasing pack to draw level with Estes with a birdie at the par-four 16th, where he struck a superb approach to just over a foot, before his bogey-birdie finish set up a gripping playoff.

Four players held the outright lead during the final round but overnight pacesetter Kim, bidding for his first PGA Tour victory in more than a year, tumbled back into a tie for 14th after closing with a 74.

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