Dufner earns elusive first victory
Jason Dufner beat Ernie Els with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff Sunday in the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., to win for the first time in 164 starts on the PGA Tour.
After entering the fourth round with a two-shot lead, Dufner shot a 2-under-par 70 at TPC Louisiana. Els had a 67 to match Dufner at 19-under 269.
After both players missed birdie putts within 8 feet on the par-5 18th, they went back to the 18th tee for the second extra hole, which Dufner won by hitting the green in two strokes and tapping home a short birdie putt after Els’ birdie attempt from the fringe narrowly missed.
Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the Phoenix Open and Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship for two of his three career runner-up finishes.
The 6-foot-3 Els, who goes by the nickname “The Big Easy,” hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a little more than two years ago.
He did not have a single bogey in the final round or playoff, and would have won his 19th career PGA Tour event in, of all places, the Big Easy, if he could have made a birdie putt of a little less than 6 feet on the first playoff hole. He pushed it more than 2 feet past the edge of the hole.
On the second playoff hole, Els’ tee shot went into a fairway bunker, and his second shot landed 137 yards from the pin. His third shot landed on the fringe, nearly 19 feet from the pin, but he nearly saved birdie from there, his putt missing by 2 inches.
Luke Donald shot a 67 to finish third at 17 under, and pass Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 ranking.
Stacy Lewis won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic for her second LPGA Tour title, holding off hard-charging teen Lexi Thompson by a stroke.
Lewis, who held a five-stroke lead early in the day, reclaimed the edge with a birdie on No. 16, while the 17-year-old Thompson parred the final hole and had to wait.
Lewis parred out. Her week was so solid that her finishing 3-under 69 was her worst round en route to a 17-under 271 total. The former Arkansas star also won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Thompson found redemption from her final-round fall in Mobile a year ago. She didn’t flinch under the pressure given a second shot, closing with rounds of 66 and 65, tying her career low in a bogey-free round.
Lewis secured the win with a two-putt par from the edge of the green.
France’s Karine Icher closed with a 68 to finish third, two strokes back.
Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger won the Ballantine’s Championship in Seoul, South Korea, for his first European Tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 to win by five strokes.
Wiesberger finished at 18 under on the Blackstone course in the event also sanctioned by the Asian Tour. Scotland’s Richie Ramsay had a 65 to finish second.