Stallings wins Greenbrier Classic in playoff

Scott Stallings, final round, 2011 Greenbrier Classic
Steve Helber/AP
Scott Stallings buried a six-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win the Greenbrier Classic.

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Scott Stallings made a birdie on the final hole to qualify for a three-way playoff, then sprinted in excitement toward the 18th tee and showed he could repeat the feat on the first extra hole.

The PGA Tour rookie sank a 7-footer for birdie on the 168-yard hole to win the Greenbrier Classic on Sunday, beating Bob Estes and Bill Haas.

After watching Estes and Haas miss longer birdie attempts on the first extra hole, Stallings curled in his putt for his first tour victory. He flipped his putter, then hugged and high-fived his caddie.

"To be a champion in such a great event is a huge blessing," Stallings said.

The 26-year-old Stallings is the 10th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year and the sixth rookie to do it.

"I've wanted to do this since I was a little kid," Stallings said. "I was that little boy running around chasing autographs and yelling at guys because they wouldn't stop and sign my golf balls."

Stallings overcame a tough start and made six birdies on the back nine to gain the playoff, where he earned a winner's check worth $1.08 million and a spot in the Bridgestone Invitational.

Stallings said he was more excited about moving from 88th to 26th on the FedEx Cup points list.

A native of Worchester, Mass., and die-hard Red Sox fan, he'll likely realize one of his biggest goals to play in the Deutsch Bank Championship, the second stop in the FedEx Cup playoffs outside of Boston. The top 100 in the points standings after the Barclays, the first playoff stop, will qualify.

It marked the second straight week that a tournament was won in sudden death. Sean O'Hair beat Kris Blanks on the first playoff hole a week ago at the Canadian Open.

In just its second year, the Greenbrier Classic produced another dramatic finish. Stuart Appleby shot 59 in last year's final round, including a birdie on the last hole to beat Jeff Overton by a stroke.

Estes and Haas each earned $528,000. Haas earned his fourth top-10 finish of the season and improved to 12th in the FedEx standings.

The 45-year-old Estes missed out on his first tour win since 2002 and fifth overall. Estes sat out the first three months of the year with a wrist injury and was playing in just his seventh tournament.

Estes, playing with a respiratory illness, shot 6-under 64 and was the clubhouse leader at 10 under, then found out Haas birdied the par-5 17th six groups later to join him after a 67.

Stallings, who shot 69, waited a half hour on the 17th tee and bogeyed the par-5 after his drive went out of bounds. He needed a birdie at No. 18 to make the playoff. He sank a 5-footer to do it.

After signing his scorecard, Stallings made his impromptu sprint and said later he wasn't too winded for the playoff.

"Running from the back of the green to the tee to go to the playoff is something I'll never forget," he said. "I've been working with a trainer for about a month, so he should be proud."

Estes waited more than an hour between the final round and the playoff. He went to eat, then warmed up on the practice range, hitting his 8 iron and putter to prepare for No. 18, and driver, 5 wood and sand wedges for No. 17 if it went that far.

"I felt like I did everything exactly right," Estes said. "I just didn't make the birdie putt on 18."

Jimmy Walker (68), Andres Romero (65), Brendon de Jonge (66), Cameron Tringale (67) and Gary Woodland (69) finished at 9 under.

After last year's tournament, the course was lengthened more than 200 yards and the reseeded greens were less receptive to approach shots this time around. Appleby and Phil Mickelson were among those missing the cut, and the low rounds of the tournament were 62s shot by Anthony Kim and Walker on Saturday.

There were birdies to be made Sunday, just not the boatload that Appleby enjoyed last year.

Kim, the third-round leader, missed four birdie tries under 14 feet on the first six holes. He three-putted the par-3 8th, then hooked his tee shot into trees on the next hole and made bogey. He shot 74 to finish at 6 under, tied with four others.

Webb Simpson overcame a double bogey on the first hole, made five birdies on the front nine and took the lead briefly after a 3-footer for birdie at No. 9. It would be his last. He bogeyed the next hole and never recovered. He shot even par and finished tied with Kyle Stanley at 8 under.

Simpson relinquished the lead to Haas, who had at Nos. 8-9. Haas made bogey at No. 15 to give Estes the lead, then tied him two holes later.

Stallings started the day a shot out of the lead and seemed to take himself out of contention with three bogeys on the front nine.

He responded with four birdies on the first five holes on the back, then hit a 103-yard wedge within a foot of the hole on the par-4 16th to move to 10 under before getting into trouble on No. 17.

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