After leader John Huston struggled through a nightmarish gauntlet of three holes that included hitting a putt into a lake, Steve Elkington came on Sunday to win the Mercedes Championships in a playoff with Bruce Lietzke.
Elkington and Lietzke shot 5-under-par 67s in the final round of regulation to get to 10-under. Elkington rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole for the victory. He and Lietzke each hit their tee shots on the par-3, 180-yard No. 11 about the same distance from the pin. After Elkington made his putt, Lietzke’s try tailed off just to the right of the hole.
Huston, who was 11-under and led by four shots going into the final round, lost five shots to par on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes. He had a closing 77.
Lietzke was alone in the lead for most of the final nine holes, going to 9-under par for a one-shot lead with a birdie on No. 11. Elkington, however, matched Lietzke’s birdies on No. 12 and No. 14 to remain one stroke behind, then pulled even when Lietzke bogeyed No. 17.
Both parred the first playoff hole, getting up and down from sand on No. 10.
Huston, solid as a rock as he led the first three rounds of the tournament, abruptly fell apart on the final day.
He hit into a creek on No. 5 and had to take a penalty stroke to drop out, winding up with a double-bogey 6. He bogeyed the sixth hole, then lost two more shots with a bizarre birdie putt on No. 7.
About 50 feet uphill from the hole, Huston stroked his putt too firmly and the ball rolled some 15 feet beyond the hole, carried just over the fringe, then rolled down a bank and into the water.