HILTON HEAD (South Carolina): Davis Love III birdied the fourth sudden death playoff hole to defeat Woody Austin and win The Heritage for a fifth time on Sunday.
Love, whose previous playoff record was 1-7, glanced his approach shot off the flagstick at the par-four 18th hole and then made a three-foot putt to win.
“It was a little too long and it’s unfortunate, both for Woody and myself, that we didn’t hit a good putt or a good shot when we needed it and finish it earlier,” Love said. “But somehow, that’s the way playoffs seem to go.”
Love’s win in the US$4.5mil event is his third of 2003, matching his career-best season of 1992.
The two players finished the four rounds on 13-under-par 271, a stroke ahead of David Gossett (66), Australian Geoff Ogilvy (67), Chris Riley (67) and 2004 US Ryder Cup captain Hal Sutton (68) at 12 under.
Matt Gogel (68), Tom Pernice Jr. (68) and Steve Flesch (69) finished at 11-under 273.
The leaderboard took definitive shape when world number two Ernie Els double bogeyed the 16th hole and dropped from 14 to 12-under, opening the door for more than a half dozen players. Els would finish with a 69 for a 274 total – tied for 10th.
Late in the afternoon, Sutton and Austin were alone at 13-under, but Sutton bogeyed the 72nd hole to drop back, leaving Austin in sole possession of the lead – albeit briefly.
Love, playing in the next to last group, chipped in from right of the 18th green to tie Austin for the lead. Austin then followed Love by getting up and down for par to force the playoff.
“I hung in there all week,” Love said.
“I hit a lot of funny and uncharacteristic shots for me in this tournament and I got away with it. You would never expect Ernie (Els) to finish like he did, nor Hal Sutton.”
At the first playoff hole, Austin drove his tee shot into the hazard and was forced to drop, opening the door for Love to win, but the two players settled for bogey when Love’s par attempt from 10 feet lipped out.
At the par-four 16th, the second playoff hole, Love and Austin made par, this time Austin’s eight-foot birdie attempt catching the cup’s edge and lipping out.
At the par-three 17th hole, both players hit errant tee shots, Austin right of the green; Love left into the greenside bunker.
Both chipped to within six feet, but two-putted for bogeys. – Reuters