Franco Cashes in at US Bank

By Sports NetworkJuly 25, 2004, 4:00 pm
US Bank Championship in MilwaukeeMILWAUKEE, Wis. -- Carlos Franco shot a 3-under 67 Sunday to capture the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee. He finished at 13-under-par 267 and won by two strokes over Brett Quigley and Fred Funk.
Patrick Sheehan, one of three 54-hole leaders, fell apart on the back nine Sunday. He only managed an even-par 70 and tied for third with Olin Browne and Billy Andrade, who posted matching rounds of 3-under-par 67. The trio came in at 10-under-par 270.
Franco began Sunday's final round tied with Sheehan and Quigley and with a spectacular approach at No. 9, Franco matched Sheehan atop the leaderboard at 12 under par.
Sheehan pulled ahead with an 8-footer for birdie at the ninth. Trouble loomed for Sheehan as he attempted to win his first tournament on the PGA Tour.
Sheehan missed the green at the par-3 11th and left with a bogey. Franco made a mess of the 12th to fall one behind Sheehan, but Sheehan had problems of his own at No. 12.
He drove right, then caught a flyer lie and knocked his second long and left. Sheehan faced a difficult, downhill chip with little green to work with, but he ran his ball through the other side of the green, into the fairway. Sheehan's fourth shot hit the stick and bounced 10 feet from the hole. He missed the bogey putt for a double-bogey 6.
Now with a two-stroke advantage, Franco played safely. He hit his approach 25 feet over the hole and two-putted for par at the 13th. At 14, Franco played his tee ball to 5 feet, but never seemed comfortable over the putt and missed right.
Franco took out his frustration from 14 on his ball at the par-5 15th. He smashed a drive into the first cut, then played his second on to the collar of the rough 20 feet from the hole. Franco chipped to 3 feet and ran home the birdie putt to go three ahead.
Funk was in the clubhouse at minus-11, while Quigley kept making pars. Franco made pars at 16 and 17, but Quigley inched within two with a birdie at the 17th after nearly holing his second shot. Sheehan also bogeyed 13 to fall off the pace.
Franco was up two when he waited on the par-5 18th tee. His drive went into the trees on the right side and he laid up short of the putting surface. Franco's second looked like it might be heading for the tall grass on the other side of the fairway, but stopped in the first cut.
Franco, the 1999 winner, pitched 30 feet past the flag, giving him a fast downhill putt. He flew it 3 feet past the hole, but converted for par. Now he watched to see if Quigley could make eagle and force a playoff.
Quigley drove into trees and hit his second down the fairway. He needed to hole out to force the sudden-death playoff, but missed right, allowing Franco his first win since 2000.
'I'm very happy because I waited almost five years for another win,' said Franco, who pocketed $630,000 for the win. 'I won here in 1999. This week is good for me.'
Franco is celebrating his 16th wedding anniversary this week and had his young daughter with him. This is a special place for Franco, who became the seventh multiple winner of this tournament. He now has four PGA Tour victories, two here and two in New Orleans.
Franco avoided the mistakes that plagued him in Saturday's third round. Several times on Saturday, Franco drove into terrible situations and he lost the outright lead with a bogey at 18.
On Sunday, he still had some miscues off the tee, but he played through it on his way to the winner's circle.
'Yesterday, I lost my focus on a couple of holes on the back nine,' said Franco. 'I did not lose my focus and I took a lot of confidence out of this. I was looking only for the trophy.'
Funk picked up more Ryder Cup points with his runner-up finish, as there is only three more weeks before the American team is finalized. He shot a 4-under 66 on Sunday.
Quigley posted a 1-under 69.
Defending champion Kenny Perry, who played in the penultimate group with Franco, tied for the lead briefly when he holed an 8-iron from 172 yards for an eagle at the eighth. He tallied three bogeys and one birdie the rest of the way for an even-par 70.
He tied for seventh with Bo Van Pelt (67) and Danny Briggs (68) at 9-under-par 271.
Scott Hoch took 10th at minus-8, while Scott Verplank narrowly missed out on Ryder Cup points. He tied for 11th with Jason Dufner at 7 under par and will not move up from his 12th position on the American list.
Related Links:
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