Argentina's Andres Romero wins Zurich Classic for first PGA Tour title

This was Romero's 12th career start on the PGA Tour.
Fred Vuich/SI

AVONDALE, La.(AP) — Argentina's Andres Romero played a solid golf game, then he played the waiting game. He won them both.

Romero, in just his 12th PGA Tour start, won the Zurich Classic with a 4-under 68 on Sunday - a one-stroke victory over Australia's Peter Lonard.

``It was very important to put that score two hours and a half before the end,'' Romero said through an interpreter. ``It was great because they had to reach that score.''

Romero, a shot behind John Merrick on Sunday morning after the completion of the third round, had a 13-under 275 total on the TPC Louisiana and earned $1,116,000.

Then all he had to do was sit back and watch the chase.

``I was in the players' lounge having some lunch and chatting with my friends,'' he said. ``I had some lunch and called home and told my mom. They had to do the job because I had already done mine.''

Lonard had a chance to force a playoff, but missed a long birdie putt on 18.

Lonard opened with a pair of birdies, bogeyed Nos. 3 and 10, then birdied Nos. 8, 11, 14 and 16 to tie Romero at 13 under. The Australian's putt for par on 17 stopped 4 inches short of the cup, and he then failed to birdie 18.

``I think in a perfect world you'd rather come down the stretch together,'' Lonard said. ``But I think if there's ever a chance you're going to actually shoot the score - if they give you three hours' notice, you probably should be able to if you're good enough.''

Romero, who started with a 73 on Thursday, whittled away at the lead with a 69, then a 65 in the rain-delayed third round. In the final round, Romero offset a bogey on the sixth hole with five birdies.

The consolation for Lonard - besides the $669,600 second-place money - is that the runner-up finish should get him into the Masters by moving him from No. 72 to No. 50 in the world. The Zurich Classic was the final week to earn a spot at Augusta National through the world ranking.

``Well, I've never made a cut at Augusta, so it doesn't really worry me whether I'm going or not,'' Lonard said. ``But I would like another go before I die.''

Romero already qualified for the Masters with his third-place finish last summer in the British Open, a result that helped him earn a 2008 PGA Tour card. He was the fourth straight player to notch his first win at the Zurich Classic.

Tim Wilkinson shot a 67 to finish third, two strokes back at 11 under. British Open champion Padraig Harrington (69), Woody Austin (71) and Nicholas Thompson (71) followed at 10 under.

Stewart Cink was disqualified after signing an incorrect scorecard after the third round.

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