LAS VEGAS – The higher the stakes, the calmer Martin Laird became.
The 26-year-old Scot won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open on Sunday for his first PGA Tour title, beating George McNeill with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff in the Fall Series event.
Laird closed with a 3-under 68 to match McNeill (67) and former UNLV player Chad Campbell (69) at 19-under 265. Campbell was eliminated on the second extra hole.
“I don’t know whether it was because I had a nice long par on 18 to get into the playoff,” Laird said. “But when I got into the playoff I was surprised; I kind of chilled out a little. I was pretty nervous the last two or three holes in regulation, and once I got there in the playoff I kind of relaxed a little more.
“And when I stood up there on the first playoff hole and struck the ball down the middle, it was the perfect way to start the playoff.”
Laird, a former Colorado State player, earned $756,000 and a two-your tour exemption for the breakthrough victory at TPC Summerlin in his 53rd tour star. He jumped from 134th to 62nd on the money list with $1,271,254.
Three-time Las Vegas winner Jim Furyk (62) and Jeff Klauk (68) tied for fourth at 18 under, and former UNLV player Charley Hoffman (68) followed at 17 under.
Laird holed an 11-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for the victory after McNeill, the 2007 winner, hit his approach near the greenside water hazard, then lipped out an 18-foot par putt.
Campbell dropped out with a bogey on the par-3 17th.
“I didn’t play that well today,” Campbell said. “I was able to hang around and make some putts and make some birdies to get myself into the playoff. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get it done.”
Laird took the lead from Campbell and Furyk at 19 under with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. Laird parred the next six holes before birdieing the par-5 16th to reach 20 under, then dropped back with a bogey on 17.
McNeill birdied the 18th to join Laird and Campbell at 19 under, and Campbell and Laird then closed with pars to set up the playoff.
The three players opened the playoff with pars on No. 18, and Laird and McNeill advanced with pars on No. 17, while Campbell dropped out with his bogey.
Furyk birdied seven of his last nine holes in his career-best 62.
“I’m very happy with the way I played today,” Furyk said. “And 62, to kind of end the year, is super.”
Las Vegas native Scott Piercy, tied for the third-round lead, had double bogeys on 17 and 18 holes en route to a 73. He tied for 14th at 15 under.