COOLUM, Australia (AP) — Peter Lonard has another Australian PGA title all to himself.
The veteran Australian capped what he considered a poor season with a win Sunday on the Hyatt Regency course he has almost made his own, winning the PGA for the third time with a 7-under 65 and a three-shot victory.
Lonard won in 2004 after sharing the 2002 title with Jarrod Moseley when darkness forced officials to stop play after the first hole of a playoff.
“A lot of guys joked that I’ve really got 2 1/2, but I’ll say three for now,” Lonard said.
Last year, Lonard lost in a playoff when Nick O’Hern chipped in from the bunker on the fourth extra hole. Lonard has nine Australian titles, including the Australian Open twice, and won the 2005 MCI Heritage on the U.S. PGA tour, his only overseas victory and his last tournament win anywhere.
In a group of five trailing third-round leader Rory Sabbatini by one stroke at the start of play, Lonard had a 20-under 268 total. The Australian doffed his cap to the crowd, almost matter-of-factly, when his short par putt on the water-protected 18th green dropped for the win.
Lonard didn’t touch a club for more than two months from September, and spent some time with his U.S. coach David Leadbetter. He had just one top-three finish in his 27 U.S. starts this year, and missed 12 cuts.
“My chipping was ordinary, my putting has always been ordinary and I couldn’t hit the ball,” said Lonard.
Leadbetter obviously made a difference, but that didn’t make Lonard any more comfortable Sunday during the final round.
“I was shaking all day,” said Lonard. “The feeling I had before I played was a feeling I hadn’t had for a long time, I think that was the best part.”
Lonard birdied three of the first six holes on the back nine to run away in a final round that began with 15 players within five shots of the lead.
New Zealand’s David Smail, Lonard’s playing partner, shot a 68 to finish second, while three Australians were tied at 15 under, five back – Greg Chalmers (65), Scott Laycock (66) and first-round leader Michael Sim (70).
Australians Adam Scott (68) and Adam Bland (71), were six strokes back.
Sabbatini had a forgettable day, going into the water on 18 and finishing with a bogey for a 74. He tied for 10th, eight strokes back.
“I wasn’t out there playing for second place,” said Sabbatini. “With four holes to go I knew Peter had gone to 19 under and I knew I had to try and push and make some birdies down the stretch … force the aggression.
“The course bit back. Every dog has his day and today wasn’t mine.”
Sabbatini allowed Lonard to pull away twice when the South African bogeyed two par 3s – the third and the 11th. Sabbatini’s bogey on 13 gave Lonard a three-shot cushion.
Sabbatini and American Jason Gore, playing in the final group, had problems with the swirling wind that cranked up soon after they teed off. Both left their tee shots on the par-3 third short of the green, and both missed their par putts from about 5 feet.
Sabbatini was particularly irritated with his miss, which he pulled left of the hole. He threw his putter up in the air a few feet away from his caddie, who grabbed it before it dropped to the ground.
Gore never threatened for the lead Sunday, shooting a 75 and finishing 10 shots behind Lonard.
Fellow American J.B. Holmes shot a 67 to tie for 10th. Defending champion O’Hern’s 72 left him in a tie for 20th, 11 strokes behind.