Kelly Pampling Prevail in Playoff


2006 Merrill Lynch ShootoutNAPLES, Fla. -- Rod Pampling and Jerry Kelly beat Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank on the first sudden-death playoff hole Sunday to win the Merrill Lynch Shootout.
It wasn't pretty.
Pampling and Kelly won with a three-putt bogey at the par-4 18th -- only after Leonard and Verplank struggled to escape a greenside pond on the way to a double-bogey.
Leonard had his shoes and socks off, and it didn't go well.
Both teams shot 13-under 59 in a scramble and were tied at 31-under-par 185 after three rounds. Pampling and Kelly split $675,000 for their surprising win.
For Pampling, a late replacement for Peter Jacobsen, just being invited to the tournament was surprising.
'When I saw Jerry was my partner, I thought it would be a great time,' said Pampling, who made a 22-foot birdie putt in regulation to force the playoff. 'We do things so similar, and it paid off.'
Leonard and Verplank shared $430,000 for second place.
The playoff was decided in modified alternate shot format -- when the player whose drive is not selected hits his team's second shot, and they alternate shots after that.
Leonard and Verplank's chances ended with a splash -- literally -- after Verplank sent the team's second shot rolling into the marshy edge of a pond.
Earlier, Verplank had set up their final birdie in regulation with a spectacular shot at the 18th that landed within 6 feet. Pampling and Kelly tied them when Pampling rolled in his long birdie try moments later.
Kelly missed his left, and Pampling got a good read from the same spot.
'The putter felt really nice, and obviously it just went straight in the center,' said Pampling. 'It was a nice one to make.'
In the playoff, Leonard was forced to remove his shoes and socks for his team's third shot. He gave the submerged ball a good whack -- producing a large splash, but little else.
The ball went just 4 feet, where it came to rest behind a small ridge.
Verplank popped the fourth shot into the air and onto the fringe, but by then Pampling and Kelly were looking good from 40 feet. Still, they needed three tries.
Pampling pushed the first putt 5 feet past the hole. Kelly then lipped out the par putt, leaving his partner to make the bogey try for the win.
As it turned out, if Leonard had gotten one more rotation out of a 20-foot chip (for bogey) there would have been a second playoff hole.
Afterward, Leonard's opponents were impressed with his earlier attempt from the water.
'He did really well to get it that far,' said Pampling. 'I've never seen a ball come out of the water that was fully submerged.'
'You have to hit it so hard and so steep to get under a ball that's under water, it's difficult,' added Kelly.
'I used to practice those shots all the time. I kind of like them.'
Kenny Perry and John Huston, the 2005 champions, also had a 13-under 59 in the final round and tied for third place with Chad Campbell and Nick Price (58) and Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini (59) at 29-under 188.
Second-round leaders John Daly and J.B. Holmes had just an 8-under 64 on Sunday -- not a good score in scramble format. They shared sixth place with Fred Funk and Scott Hoch (58) at 27-under 189.
Brad Faxon and J.J. Henry (60) and Mark O'Meara and Jeff Sluman tied for eighth at 25-under 191. Mark Calcavecchia and Steve Elkington (58) were two shots further back at 193.
Tournament host Greg Norman and Nick Faldo shot a 60 and finished 11th at 19 under. Fred Couples and women's No. 1 Annika Sorenstam ended last at 18 under following a 60.
Sorenstam shunned the LPGA Tournament of Champions to play in her first multiple-round event against the men since a high-profile attempt to make the cut at the 2003 Colonial.
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