Hamilton Edges Love for Honda Win

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04 Honda ClassicPALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Todd Hamilton, a 38-year-old PGA Tour rookie, birdied the final two holes Sunday to win the Honda Classic by one stroke over Davis Love III. Hamilton finished the event at 12-under-par 276 for his maiden win.
 
'This is a dream come true. It's very satisfying,' said Hamilton, who became the eighth player to earn his first tour win at this event. 'There are probably a lot of other golfers who deserve it talent-wise to win this, but I can guarantee you that there is no one that'll appreciate it more than me.'
 
Love, who briefly took the lead with a birdie at the par-5 17th, closed the event with a 3-under 69. He ends at minus-11 and in second place for the second straight year at this event.
 
Brian Bateman used a Sunday-best 4-under 68 to move into third at 10-under-par 278. He held a share of the lead before Love and Hamilton finished with their late birdies.
 
Hamilton, a four-time winner on the Japan PGA Tour last season, three-putted for bogey at the par-4 13th to fall into a share of first with Bateman, who in the clubhouse, and Love.
 
Love, playing three groups ahead of Hamilton, the overnight leader, two-putted for par at the 16th. Love, an 18-time winner on the PGA Tour, then knocked his second shot just off the green at the par-5 17th.
 
From the collection area next to the green, Love putted his third within three feet of the cup. He kicked that in for birdie to get to minus-11 and a one- shot lead.
 
Love missed the green, again right, at the last and pitched his third to four feet. He tapped in for his par to finish at minus-11.
 
Hamilton, meanwhile, two-putted for par on the 14th and got up-and-down for par at the very next hole. The University of Oklahoma graduate again two-putted for par at No. 16 on the Sunrise Course at Country Club of Mirasol.
 
His 6-iron to the 17th came up short and right of the green. Hamilton, like Love, chose to putt through the collection area. He knocked his third to nine feet and then calmly rolled that in for birdie to join Love at minus-11.
 
Hamilton found the fairway off the 18th tee. Standing 164 yards from the cup, he dropped his second within three feet of the hole and sank that short birdie putt for the win.
 
'I was just trying to hit it on the front third of the green at the last and at least give myself a chance,' said Hamilton, who earned $900,000 for the win. 'I had a pretty good yardage and hit an 8-iron in there. I had a good feeling from birdieing No. 18 Saturday, so I just tried to picture that shot and luckily I pulled it off.'
 
Things did not start well for Hamilton. He bogeyed the second and fifth to fall back to 12-under and dropped another shot at the par-4 ninth.
 
'I played really well the first three days, then kind of struggled today for a long time, but low and behold I found a couple of birdies at the end,' Hamilton said. 'It's a crazy game. I thought I hit a lot of good shots early, and ended up making bogeys. I hit a lot of goofy shots in the middle and made pars. I don't know how I did it, but I found two birdies at the end.'
 
Love climbed into position with back-to-back birdies from the fifth. After a bogey at the eighth, Love returned to minus-10 with a birdie at the ninth. He parred seven straight holes before birdieing the 17th.
 
'I knew I had to make birdies, but just wasn't hitting it close enough to make them,' said Love, who tied for second place last year behind Justin Leonard. 'I was disappointed with my drive (on No. 18). I kind of flared it out there. I miss that green to the right it seems like every time.'
 
Bateman birdied the second and third. He then bogeyed the fourth and double- bogeyed the fifth but responded with a birdie at the seventh. On the back side, Bateman birdied four of six holes from the 12th to leap to 10 under.
 
'I had no idea where I stood,' Bateman admitted afterwards. 'I got off to a good start and made a couple of birdies and had a hiccup in the middle of my round. I made a good birdie on No. 7 and played the back nine pretty strong.'
 
Kevin Na, the youngest player on the PGA Tour, closed with a 3-under 69. He finished the event tied for fourth place at 9-under-par 279 with Woody Austin (70), Fredrik Jacobson (73) and Robert Allenby (70).
 
Brad Faxon ended one stroke further back at minus-8 after closing with a 2-under 70. Leonard, the 2003 champion, closed with a 1-under 71 to end the tournament at 4-under-par 284 in a tie for 25th.
 
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