Austin Tops Herron in Playoff


PGA Tour (75x100)CROMWELL, Conn. -- Woody Austin birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Tim Herron and win the Buick Championship. The win was the first since the 1995 Buick Open for Austin.
'I don't like the nine-and-a-half, 10 years in between the two titles, but it's a quality win,' said Austin, who earned $756,000 for the victory. 'I've had three chances and all three having been playoffs. The first one I was fortunate enough to win, so I'm happy to be on the positive side again.'
Herron birdied the 18th in regulation to force a playoff with Austin, who bogeyed the 72nd hole. Both players closed with rounds of 4-under 66 to end the tournament tied at 10-under-par 260 at the TPC at River Highlands.
On the 72nd hole, Austin's tee shot found a deep divot in the left rough. He blasted his second shot over the green into the back chipping area, while Herron's second from the fairway landed 30 feet from the cup.
Austin ran his chip shot some nine feet by the hole. Herron then drained his birdie try to get to minus-10 and put the pressure on Austin. The 40-year-old Austin left his par putt on the right edge and kicked in the bogey putt.
After no one was able to catch Austin and Herron, the duo returned to the 18th tee for the first extra hole. Herron, teeing off first, pulled his drive into the thick rough left of the fairway.
Austin ripped a long drive down the middle of the fairway. Herron then knocked his second onto the green some 45 feet from the hole. Austin, meanwhile, stuck his second inside 5 feet.
Herron's birdie try came up short and after a measurement by a PGA Tour official, Herron was determined to be away. He drained his par putt.
'I guess I was kind of lucky that I wasn't real into it,' Herron said. 'I was having fun. First time in a long time where I had fun playing golf, and that chunk on 17, you know, somehow as a golfer you've got to get over those things.'
Austin, knowing he needed to make his putt for the win, poured in the birdie try for his second playoff win.
'I certainly wanted to feel vindicated after my victory, my rookie year and then winning Rookie of the Year and pretty much haven't done anything since,' Austin said. 'I feel like last year almost winning Harbour Town and now this year winning, I feel like I'm starting to be vindicated again. I feel like if I can get my confidence back.'
Fred Funk, looking for his first win since the 1998 Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic, managed an even-par 70 in the final round. He shared third place with Tom Pernice, Jr. and Zach Johnson at 9-under-par 271.
Corey Pavin, who was in the mix for his first win since the 1996 Colonial, also closed with a 70 to end at 8-under-par 272. He was joined there by Jason Bohn (65) and Matt Gogel (67).
Austin bogeyed the par-4 first to slip back to 5 under. He atoned for that mistake with a birdie at the seventh, before catching fire on the back nine.
'I did the same thing yesterday. I played quality golf the whole front nine yesterday and today, I just couldn't get the ball to go in the hole,' said Austin, who birdied 10-14 on Saturday. 'I hit a great shot into 10, and when that putt went in, I was like, okay, maybe I can do the same thing, and then I birdied 11. I just hit so many good quality shots and gave myself enough chances, and fortunately, I made all the putts I needed to make.'
The 1995 Buick Open winner dropped in a birdie at the 10th and came right back to birdie the 11th and move to 8 under. Austin was not done there. He birdied the 13th to get within one shot of the lead.
Austin drained a 10-foot birdie try at the 14th to forge a four-way tie atop the leaderboard. He converted a 7-footer for birdie at 15, for his third straight birdie, and a one-shot lead.
Austin parred the 16th and 17th setting up the dramatics at the last.
Herron, who battled a bad case of Lyme disease earlier this summer, played his first nine holes in 1 under as he birdied the par-4 fourth. He caught fire around the turn.
The 34-year-old dropped in back-to-back birdies from the 10th. Herron tripped to a bogey at the 12th, but sank a 10-foot eagle putt at the next to move into a tie for the lead.
Herron, a three-time winner on tour, got up-and-down for par at 14 and two-putted for his par at the 15th. Lumpy, as Herron is known on tour, nearly holed his tee shot at the 16th, bit it came to rest within an inch of the cup.
Herron kicked in that birdie, but trouble loomed. He found the fairway at the 17th, but hit a fat second shot and it came up short of the putting surface and in a water hazard. He later missed a 9-footer and walked away with a double bogey before his strong play at 18 forced an extra hole.
'You know I had a perfect yardage on 17,' said Herron. 'I don't know what I did there, but all I can say is I hung in there. I missed a little putt. I kept grinding. Once I hit the back nine, I was just kind of trying to get in. I wasn't feeling very good.'
Todd Fischer, Tom Byrum, Jeff Sluman and Kevin Sutherland shared ninth place at 7-under-par 273. Robert Damron, Brad Faxon, Hank Kuehne, Arjun Atwal, Jerry Kelly, Hidemichi Tanaka, Kirk Triplett and Omar Uresti were one stroke further back at minus-6.
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