So whats next?
Beat Tiger Woods! Maruyama said, flashing his trademark smile.
Shigeki comments on his first PGA Tour win
Maruyama led by as many as three shots coming down the stretch in Milwaukee, Wis., but was caught by a surging Howell, who birdied six of his final seven holes.
The 31-year-old Chiba native could have avoided a playoff by birdieing the 72nd hole, but an errant second shot that landed in the greenside grandstand eventually led to a par-5.
The two men finished regulation at 18-under-par 266.
Back to the 18th the two combatants went. Maruyama successfully found the fairway, while Howell hooked his tee shot into the left rough. Howell was forced to lay-up and then came up short of the green on his third shot, as well.
Maruyama placed his second shot through green and chipped to within five feet of the hole. When Howell missed his par save from seven feet, Maruyama had two putts to win the tournament, but did so in just one.
Maruyama first made a name for himself stateside by going 5-0 for a victorious International Team in the 1998 Presidents Cup. Hes a nine-time winner in Japan, whose previous best finish on the PGA Tour was a tie for second in the 2000 Buick Invitational.
Howells previous best was a third-place finish in the John Deere Classic last year. Despite not winning, the 2000 NCAA champion easily secured his 2002 playing privileges by earning $334,800.
Its nice to know you have a job, Howell said. Its a huge relief.
Said Howell of his counterpart: Shigeki is a great player. Hes probably the nicest guy out here. Hes always smiling. But now hes obviously got a reason to smile.
Though Maruyama is the first from his country to win on the mainland, he is not the first Japanese-born player to win a PGA Tour event.
Isao Aoki captured the 1983 Hawaiian Open when he holed a pitching wedge from 128 yards for an eagle-3 on the 72nd hole.
Maruyama started the final round at Brown Deer Park one shot off the 54-hole lead, held by Jeff Sluman. Sluman struggled to a 1-over-par 72 to finish in a tie for 10th at 13-under.
On the other hand, Maruyama birdied both par-5s on the front nine to move into first place at 15-under. He then took control of the tournament by holing a 7-iron from 173 yards for an eagle-2 at the par-4 8th.
A birdie at the par-4 10th gave the Maruyama a three-stroke cushion at 18-under; though, he gave that shot back on the very next hole.
Playing a couple of groups in front of Maruyama, Howell started his scoring barrage after a bogey at the par-3 11th.
The 22-year-old birdied Nos. 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18 to enter the clubhouse at 18-under.
I didnt know if I had a chance to win, he said. But I tried to make as many birdies as I could to put some pressure on him.
Maruyama made his way back to 18-under with a birdie on the par-5 15th, and could have won the tournament in regulation had he done the same on the 18th.
Following a perfect drive on the home hole, Maruyama seemed to rush his second shot and nearly injured a handful of spectators.
Maruyama took relief from the grandstand, played his third shot 15 feet past the hole, and two-putted for par. Of course, he atoned just minutes later.
'This is a great country,' Maruyama said through a translator. 'This is the land of dreams. My dreams have come true.'
News, Notes and Numbers
*J.P. Hayes, of Appleton, finished in a tie for third with Tim Herron at 15-under. Hayes was trying to become the first Wisconsin native to win in the GMOs 34-year history.
*Skip Kendall, playing in his hometown, tied for 15th at 12-under. Kendall was fulfilling his dying fathers wish by playing this week. Kendalls father passed away Wednesday.
Full-field scores from the Greater Milwaukee Open