Westwood wins wild playoff

June 14, 2010

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Let me start off by saying this was one of the biggest sports melt downs in the history of all sports. As an avid golfer I couldn’t believe my eyes watching Robert Garrigus self destruct on the 18th hole. All he had to do was hit 3 Wood off the tee and aim it on the right side in the rough. I feel so bad for him. What a joke.

Memphis, TN Lee Westwood rolled in a five-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole Sunday to get his second PGA Tour title at the St. Jude Classic.

England’s Westwood sank a five-footer on the par-four 18th at the TPC Southwind to defeat Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who was seeking his first PGA Tour title.

Third-round leader Robert Garrigus was also in the playoff, but sudden death was only necessary after a Garrigus’ collapse on the 72nd hole.

Armed with a three-stroke lead, Garrigus hit his drive fat, directly into a pond left of the fairway. After his drop, Garrigus tried a risky shot, hit a tree and bounced left of the pond he found off the tee.

Garrigus finally pitched back to the fairway with his fourth and knocked his fifth pin-high, 35 feet right of the hole. If he made the long double-bogey putt, he’d still win with Westwood in the clubhouse and Karlsson missing his birdie effort.

Garrigus ran his long putt three feet by the hole and had to wait for Karlsson’s par putt from almost five feet. The tall Swede holed his and Garrigus made his par putt to set up the playoff.

“I got to the middle of my backswing, felt good, hit a nice draw in there and she went left and that wasn’t good,” said Garrigus, who remains winless on tour. “I made the putt to get into the playoff. I’m glad that I even got into the playoff. That ball hit the tree and dropped straight down. It didn’t go into the water.”

Garrigus found more trouble off the tee on the 18th, this time in the playoff. His drive cozied up behind a tree and he was forced to pitch out to the fairway. He knocked his third 15 feet right of the flag, but his putt to stay in the extra session lipped out of the hole.

It brought about a sad end for Garrigus, who was admirable in such a difficult-to-watch defeat.

“I felt like I handled everything great today, except for one swing,” said Garrigus. “It’s little things that you do to win. I’ve got to learn that and next time in that position, I’m going to do it.”

Garrigus finished with a one-over 71 to join Westwood (68) and Karlsson (69) at 10-under 270.

With Garrigus gone, that left the stage to the European Ryder Cup teammates.

At the fourth playoff hole, the two landed in the short grass at the closing hole, but Karlsson was farther back. His second came up 45 feet short, but Westwood, almost 20 yards past him off the tee, wedged his approach five feet right of the flagstick.

Karlsson came up a foot short with his birdie putt to open the door for Westwood. He poured in the birdie putt to get his second win in the U.S. and first since New Orleans in 1998.

The playoff could’ve easily gone Karlsson’s way.

Westwood barely got over the water at the par-three 11th and Karlsson hit a great shot to 10 feet. Westwood elected to hit a bladed wedge from the fringe and ran it four feet past. Karlsson’s birdie effort to win stayed above ground, but he tapped in for par. Westwood holed the par save and it was off to No. 12.

Both players hit the green in regulation with Westwood about 20 feet closer. Karlsson’s long birdie putt from almost 55 feet stopped five feet short of the hole. Westwood didn’t give his putt enough break and his ball nestled next to Karlsson’s coin.

Westwood was first to putt and his ball lipped out on the right side. Karlsson, who had to move his mark to accommodate Westwood, walked far away from the putt instead of looking at Westwood’s. The decision might have hurt Karlsson, who badly pulled his par putt for the win. Both tapped in for bogey and were back off to the 18th.

It was there that Westwood cashed in and now will head to Pebble Beach Thursday as one of the favorites for his first major title at the U.S. Open.

Former PGA Champion Shaun Micheel and Garrett Willis both had three-under 67s on Sunday to tie for fourth place at nine-under 271.

Heath Slocum managed an even-par 70 and took sixth at minus-eight, which was one shot better than Billy Mayfair, whose four-under 66 on Sunday got him seventh place.

Camilo Villegas (67), Bob Estes (68), D.J. Trahan (69) and Jay Williamson (69) shared eighth place at minus-six.

NOTES: Westwood became the first European to win this title…He owns 20 European Tour titles and was last year’s Race to Dubai champion…This was the longest playoff in tournament history…2009 champion Brian Gay shot a one- over 71 on Sunday and tied for 15th at four-under par…Next week is the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach with Lucas Glover trying to successfully defend his title.


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