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Damron Survives for Maiden Victory

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When Robert Damron arrived in Irving, TX, Sid Wilson, Director of Player Relations for the PGA Tour, approached him.
 
Wilson told Damron he had a premonition that he would walk through the parking lot on Sunday receiving pats on the back. This was Roberts week.
 
Free Video - Registration Required Damron talks about his four-hole playoff win
 
Sid, who do you like in the fifth at Pimlico?
 
Damron birdied the fourth hole of sudden death on Sunday to defeat Scott Verplank for his first career title at the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic.
 
Damron and Verplank carded a pair of 4-under-par 66s on Sunday to finish regulation at 17-under-par, three shots clear of Tiger Woods (63), Nick Price (67) and David Duval (67).
 
Damron, who grew up and still resides in a home on the Bay Hill golf course in Orlando, Fla., collected a first-place check of $810,000, more than any previous single-season total.
 
It's been such a long day, so many holes, Damron said. It was so up and down. It hasn't really soaked in yet.
 
Under an over-bearing Texas sun, names flocked to the top of the leaderboard as if looking for shelter.
 
A bakers dozen found themselves within one stroke of the lead at some point on Sunday. And in a Texas shootout, Tiger simply ran out of bullets.
 
Woods had fans and media scurrying on Sunday. He made the turn in 4-under-par 31, and then added three straight birdies to his card upon starting the back.
 
On the par-70 TPC Las Colinas course, the number 59 reverberated from tee to green. But Tigers six-shooter couldnt fire a fourth straight birdie bullet at the 13th.
 
After making five putts ranging from 15 to 25 feet, Tiger missed his birdie effort from 10 feet. The momentum was stalled, and ultimately shut down when he bogeyed the par-4 14th to fall to 13-under-par.
 
After a birdie at the par-5 16th, Tigers last chance to put a little fear into the field was a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole.
 
The moment it left his putters face it looked good. Even Tiger thought so. He back-peddled, clinched his fist and then raised his head ' not his hand ' to the heavens when the ball lipped out of the cup.
 
As it turned out, that proved only to be the difference between solo third place and a share of third ' insignificant to Woods.
 
Im very pleased with the way I played this week, not really playing a whole lot for a month, said Woods of his first start since winning his fourth straight major at the Masters Tournament.
 
Im pleased that I was able to hang in there and not really have my best stuff.
 
Woods will leave Monday for Germany to play in the upcoming Deutsche Bank-SAP Open on the European Tour.
 
Despite failing to win his first tour event since 1998, Price was also pleased with his performance. The 44-year-old Zimbabwean put a new set of irons in his bag on Tuesday and said he was surprised with how well he hit them.
 
Price, who won this tournament in 1991, raced up the leaderboard with a front-nine 4-under-par 31, but could only manage a 1-over-par 36 on the back.
 
The ultimate misfire came at the par-3 17th. Price tried to smooth a 7-iron over the water and onto the green. He found neither. The ball stayed dry, but within inches of the bordering rocks.
 
Price was unable to get enough club on the ball to advance his second shot onto the green. He carded a bogey to fall to 14-under and out of contention.
 
I had my chances today, Price said. It was a good week for me. I played steadily all week. Its a good platform for the future. Im getting to an age where I dont know how many chances Ive got.
 
I really needed another week or two to get confident with the irons. I just wish Id have had a little more confidence. If I get in this position next week, therell be a different outcome.
 
Though many were in contention, but two could separate themselves; and it took them a full 72 holes to do so.
 
Playing in the final twosome, Damron and Verplank went toe-to-toe. Damron birdied the first and then took a two-shot advantage on his playing companion when Verplank bogeyed the 2nd.
 
However, the three-time tour winner birdied the 4th and 9th holes to draw even at 14-under-par upon making the turn.
 
Following 11 straight pars, Damron recorded his second red number of the day at the par-3 13th. Verplank matched that birdie with one of his own two holes later when he pitched in from just off the green at the par-4 15th.
 
Both men birdied the par-5 16th to move to 16-under. At the par-3 17th, each had birdie putts inside of 15 feet. Damron made his, while Verplank missed.
 
Down one with one to play, Verplank stuck his approach shot on the par-4 finishing hole to eight feet. This time, one swipe of the flatstick was sufficient.
 
Seventeen-under-par 263. Sudden death.

The playoff proved to be one of altering acts of charity.
 
Verplank missed a 12-footer for the win on the first extra hole. Damron left a sealer on the second on the lip of the cup. Verplank then extended the action by missing another 12-footer on the 21st hole of the day.
 
However, the favors were forgone on the next hole as Damron snuck in a 14-foot birdie putt. Verplank had a chance to reciprocate, but missed miserably to the right.
 
Im disappointed I didnt win the tournament, but other than not winning, I couldnt ask for anything else, said the Dallas native, who held at least a share of the lead from the outset.
 
Playoffs are always bittersweet; and in his first extra session, Damron was on the sugary side.
 
I think Ill carry my head a little higher next week, but its great and its awesome, said Damron.
 
Dont think that because both men missed multiple winning opportunities that the playoff was amateurish.
 
Far from it. Neither man missed a fairway or a green.
 
I was pretty fun coming down the stretch, said Verplank. Robert and I were both making things happen.
 
I kept hitting good shots and he kind of matched me.
 
News, Notes and Numbers
 
*Robert Damron wins his first PGA Tour title in his 132nd start.
 
*This marks the first time in Damrons career that he has posted four rounds in the 60s in a 72-hole event (66-64-67-66).
 
*This was the third consecutive playoff at this event, and the longest in tournament history.
 
*Damron joins Mark Hayes (1976) and Neal Lancaster (1994) as the only men to make the Byron Nelson Classic their first PGA Tour triumphs.
 
*An estimate 85,000 people were on-hand Sunday, bringing the five-day attendance total to 264,500.
 
Full-field scores from the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic