LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Troy Merritt saved his PGA Tour card. Then he won something with a more immediate payoff.
After finishing as the final player inside the cut line to keep his card next year, Merritt beat Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley in a one-hole playoff to win the $1 million Kodak Challenge.
“It was a photo finish,” Merritt said, chuckling.
The contest designates a hole at 30 tournaments and keeps score throughout the year. The lowest score for those who played at least 18 holes this season won.
The trio replayed No. 17 on Disney World’s Magnolia Course after the Children’s Miracle Network Classic.
Merritt hit his 133-yard approach shot to 18 inches, then birdied the hole to claim a prize that was bigger than the $846,000 Robert Garrigus took home for winning the Disney tournament.
The three Kodak finalists finished at 17 under in the contest, which was worth enough for Fowler to fly back after playing Shanghai last week and for Baddeley to pull out of the Australian Masters in his home country. Directors of the challenge even had lights set up along the 17th hole in case the playoff ran late.
Earlier Sunday, Merritt finished on the number at No. 125 to keep his full status on tour. Those who finish between 126-150 have partial status. Merritt said he was going to buy his wife a new car, give a share to his caddie and probably put the rest in the bank.
“I wouldn’t say it was a stress-free day,” Merritt said. “It certainly was a nice ending.”