Kiwi Lee wins maiden US PGA Tour title

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, West Virginia, July 5 AFP – Young New Zealander Danny Lee claimed his maiden US PGA Tour title and a spot in next week’s British Open when he won the Greenbrier Classic in a four-man playoff.

“All I can say is wow,” said 24-year-old Lee after two-putting on the second playoff hole to win from Canada’s David Hearn and collect $A1.6 million in prizemoney on Sunday.

“It feels amazing. I was so close a lot of times this year and I finally did it.

“Now I understand what winning on the PGA Tour feels like.”

Lee fired a closing round three-under 67 to finish at 13-under 267 and set up a playoff with Hearn (67) and Americans Robert Streb (65) and Kevin Kisner (64) in the $6.7 million event.

Lee and Hearn both sank 20-foot putts to make birdie on the first playoff hole – the par-three 18th – where Streb and Kisner were eliminated.

The sudden-death showdown on the Old White course continued at the par-five 17th.

Hearn landed his tee shot in the tree-lined rough and couldn’t recover while Lee – who was born in South Korea but grew up in Rotorua – reached the green in three and made par to win.

Steve Bowditch was the leading Australian, carding a 67 for a 270 total and a tie of 13th.

Tiger Woods showed signs of returning to form by firing a three-under 67 – his first bogey-free round since August 2013. Woods finished tied for 32nd, six strokes back of the leaders.

Lee not only earned his first US tour title but the world No. 158 will move into the top 100 when the new rankings come out.

This was Lee’s fourth international victory as he has won once previously on the European Tour, Asian Tour and PGA Tour of Australasia.

Lee, Hearn, James Hahn and Greg Owen earned spots in the British Open at St Andrews next week. There is one more spot available at this week’s John Deere Classic.

Heading into the final round Lee and Hearn were just one stroke off the lead on a crowded board that included 27 players within four strokes of the four 54-hole co-leaders.

Robert Streb was the biggest surprise of the four playoff participants after he accidentally broke his putter halfway through his round and had to putt the back nine with a sand wedge.

Former world No.1 Woods snapped a string of 55 straight rounds with a bogey or worse – a stretch dating back to his last bogey free round at The Barclays in 2013.

“That is the best I have hit in a very long time,” said Woods.

Woods rolled in three birdies and had 15 pars to finish the tournament at seven-under 273.

Woods, who entered the final round seven shots back of the leaders, said if his putting was better he would have been in contention for a title.

“If I had just made a couple of putts this week it could have been completely different.”

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