LAS VEGAS (AP) Rod Pampling won for the first time in 10 years on the PGA Tour when he closed with a 6-under 65 for a two-shot victory Sunday in the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Pampling holed a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole at the TPC Summerlin that clinched the victory. He raised his right arm and thrust it when the ball was still another foot away from the cup. The 47-year-old Australian last won on the PGA Tour at Bay Hill in 2006.
”It’s extremely rewarding,” Pampling said. ”Winning Arnold Palmer’s event is still on top. But coming back from what we’ve had the last few years, to get a win under the belt, it’s phenomenal. Amazing.”
Brooks Koepka closed with a 67 to finish second.
Lucas Glover, going for his first victory in five years, was tied with Pampling with two holes to play until he made a bogey from the bunker on the par-3 17th, and he closed with another bogey when winning was out of reach. He shot a 69 to finish third.
Francesco Molinari of Italy had a career-best 61 and tied for fourth with Geoff Ogilvy (68) and Harris English (67).
Pampling’s last victory was in the 2008 Australian Masters. He lost his PGA Tour card after the 2013 season and spent two years on the Web.com Tour, and had to return to the Web.com Tour Finals last month just to get his card back.
He was at No. 451 in the world ranking, but he played the final round as though he had never left. After missing the 12th green with a wedge and then missing a 4-foot par putt to fall one shot behind, Pampling bounced back with a 12-foot birdie putt, and an 8-iron to 18 feet for birdie on the 14th to catch Glover. Pampling made a 12-foot birdie on the next hole to keep pace, and his biggest shot might have been for par.
Tied for the lead on the par-5 16th, he pushed his drive well right into rough so deep that Pampling asked to identify his ball, and it was a good thing – it wasn’t his ball. His ball was a foot to the right, buried so badly that he could only muscle it some 30 yards behind another tree, and he had to lay up short of the water. From 121 yards, Pampling hit wedge into 6 feet and saved par to stay tied.
Glover’s tee shot on the 17th was about a foot away from being good, but it caught the lip of the bunker and left a difficult shot. He missed a 12-foot par putt and never caught up.
Pampling finished at 20-under 264 and will be exemption up until his 50th birthday when he is eligible for the PGA Tour Champions.
The victory was the third of his PGA Tour career for Pampling, who also won the now-defunct International in 2004. It puts him in the Masters for the first time since 2007, along with the PGA Championship for the first time since 2009.
”It’s self-belief,” said Pampling, whose wife is a psychologist. ”And grinding on the Web tour gives you confidence you can compete against the younger guys.”
He became the fifth Australian to win on the PGA Tour this year, joining Jason Day, Adam Scott, Greg Chalmers and Aaron Baddeley.
Ogilvy had his best finish since he tied for second in the Deutsche Bank Championship two years ago. Keegan Bradley closed with a 66 and tied for seventh. Bradley tied for sixth two weeks ago in Malaysia, giving him consecutive top 10s for the first time since March 2013.
Aaron Wise, the NCAA champion from Oregon, tied for 10th and earned a spot in the field next week in Mexico.