American Johnson Wagner, ice-cool until the very last hole, won his third USPGA Tour title by two shots after shaking off a tightly bunched pack of pursuers at the Sony Open in Hawaii on Sunday.
Two strokes off the pace going into the final round at a breezy Waialae Country Club, Wagner played error-free golf over the back nine to close with a three-under-par 67.
The 31-year-old Texan recorded two birdies after the turn to post a 13-under total of 267 in the USPGA Tour’s first full-field event of the season.
His only moment of concern came at the par-five last where he hit his third shot from a greenside bunker to 10 feet, lagged his approach putt 18 inches short and then wobbled his par putt into the cup via the right edge.
“It was a little shaky,” a smiling Wagner said greenside. “Leaving that birdie putt short was pretty pathetic really, but knowing that I had four from there sure made it easier.”
Harrison Frazar, one of six players who held at least a share of the lead in the final round, carded a 67 to tie for second with fellow Americans Sean O’Hair (67) and Charles Howell III (69) and Swede Carl Pettersson (67).
American Matt Every, co-leader overnight with Jeff Maggert, bogeyed three of the first four holes on the way to a 72 and joint sixth place at 10-under with compatriots Michael Thompson (67), Brian Gay (67) and D.A. Points (69).
With the ocean breezes making scoring tricky on the firm, palm-tree lined Waialae layout, the final round proved to be an unpredictable shootout as the birdies and bogeys piled up.
At one point, 21 players were within three strokes of the lead, but Wagner made the most significant move of the day when he edged one ahead after knocking in an 11-foot birdie putt at the par-four 10th.
Playing rock-solid golf, he then forged two strokes clear by sinking a 12-footer from just off the green at the par-four 15th before pumping his right fist in celebration.
World No. 5 Steve Stricker, who won the USPGA Tour’s season-opening Tournament of Champions on Monday, signed off with three successive bogeys for a 74 and a four-under total.
Stricker had been aiming to become the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to win the first two events of the year in Hawaii.