North Carolina native Webb Simpson claimed his first USPGA Tour title in front of home fans on Sunday, firing a three-under-par 67 for a three-shot victory in the Wyndham Championship.
Simpson had an 18-under total of 262 and was three strokes in front of George McNeill, who carded a 64 for 265.
It was a further stroke back to Tommy Gainey, who carded a 69 to finish third on 266 in the last tournament before the USPGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh and Jerry Kelly both shot 65s to join a group sharing fourth on 267.
They were joined by Swede Carl Pettersson (69), who is based in North Carolina, South Korean Kim Kyung-tae (66) and Charles Howell (67).
Simpson, who took the lead in the third round with a late run of four birdies and an eagle, started steady with eight straight pars.
He made the first of his three birdies at the par-four ninth and added back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th as he finished without a bogey on the day.
McNeill mounted a late challenge, claiming his sixth birdie of the day at the 17th to get to 15-under.
However, with Simpson making no mistakes, it was not enough.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be a lot lower,” McNeill said of the winning total. “I can only control myself. I can’t control what everybody else does. I’m very happy with the way I hit it, the way I played, the way I putted.”
Pettersson, who was born in Sweden, but has lived much of his life in North Carolina, won this tournament in 2008 and is on its board of directors.
“I’m disappointed. I’m a competitor,” Pettersson said. “I wanted to win this one badly, but Webb outplayed us all.”
Pettersson opened his round with a surprising birdie at the par-four first, where his drive missed the fairway and landed in a flower pot, before he eventually chipped in from 55 feet.
Gainey, who led or shared the lead after each of the first two rounds, dropped back with two bogeys and a double-bogey in the middle of his round, regrouped with four straight birdies from the 12th.
However, the leaders were not the only players feeling the -pressure this week, as players on the edge of qualifying for the playoffs vied to make it into the required top 125 in the standings.
Ireland’s three-time major champion Padraig Harrington, who canceled a family vacation to compete, finished sixth and moved from 130th to 124th in the standings, good enough to play at the first playoff event, The Barclays, next week in New Jersey.
South Africa’s Ernie Els, who came at 126th, made it into the playoff field despite a two-over 72. His eight-under finish had him tied for 30th, but moved him to 118th in the standings.
“You don’t know in these playoffs,” Els said. “I’ve got to play good golf though. I played really good the first two days. I’d like to get that back.”