Ryan Moore of the US, rock-solid over the closing stretch, fended off playing partner Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe in a final-round duel to win his second USPGA Tour title by one shot at the US$4.5 million Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Sunday.
Tied for the lead overnight with De Jonge and Sweden’s Jonas Blixt, Las Vegas resident Moore fired a five-under 66 in glorious afternoon sunshine at the TPC Summerlin to finish with a 24-under total of 260.
“It’s been an unbelievable week,” a jubilant Moore said on the 18th green after tapping in a short par putt to clinch victory, before thrusting his arms skywards in celebration. “I have had such great support from a bunch of family and friends out here. When I won the Wyndham, there was actually nobody there with me and I’ve got about 35, 40 people with me this week.”
Moore covered the back nine in a flawless three-under 33 to shake off De Jonge in what proved to be a two-man Sunday shootout in the Nevada desert, the Zimbabwean having to settle for a career-best second after closing with a 67.
USPGA Tour rookie Blixt, like De Jonge seeking a maiden title on the circuit, carded a 70 to secure third place at 20-under, two strokes better than Australian Jason Day (65).
Moore, who claimed his first USPGA title at the 2009 Wyndham Championship, will have further cause to celebrate as his wife, Nichole, is set to give birth to their first child in less than a month.
“We’ve got our first baby on the way in about 25 days, so the countdown starts right now,” Moore said. “This is it for me. I am done for the year.”
Though three players had shared the lead overnight in the first of four events in the USPGA Tour’s Fall Series, Blixt slipped back with a bogey at the par-four first, effectively leaving Moore and De Jonge to duel for the title.
Moore birdied three of the first seven holes to move two strokes clear, but then bogeyed the par-three eighth, where De Jonge holed a birdie putt from just off the edge of the green to make it a two-way tie at the top at 20-under.
Moore and De Jonge carded matching birdies at the ninth, 11th and 13th to remain level, though the Zimbabwean squandered a golden chance to grab the outright lead when his six-foot birdie attempt on 12 slipped past the right edge of the cup.
The tournament was ultimately decided at the par-five 16th, where Moore edged one stroke clear with a two-putt birdie after the longer hitting De Jonge found trees off the tee and was forced to chip out sideways with his second shot.
Both players parred the last two holes and De Jonge, who had previously finished third three times, had to settle for his first runner-up spot.