Greg Norman sank a 66-foot chip on the first playoff hole Sunday, capturing the World Series of Golf and becoming the leading money winner in PGA Tour history.
In beating Nick Price and Billy Mayfair, Norman won $360,000 to raise his lifetime earnings to $9.49 million and overtake Tom Kite.Victimized so many times when opponents hit similar shots, Norman's 7-iron chip gave him his third tour victory this year. He earlier won The Memorial, also in Ohio, and the Greater Hartford Open.
Norman closed with a 3-under-par 67 after earlier rounds of 73, 68 and 70 to enter the playoff with a 72-hole total of 2-under 278.
Norman had considered withdrawing from the tournament Thursday night after accusing playing partner Mark McCumber of improving his putting line on the seventh hole. But Norman's wife, tour commissioner Tim Finchem and two business associates talked him out of such plans.He still would not have had a chance at winning had it not been for an remarkable string of mishits and misfortune by the players ahead of him.
Mayfair led by as many as three shots on the back nine, but then lost the lead with bogeys at Nos. 15 and 16 to fall into a tie with Price.
Price, playing the 18th hole, and Mayfair, on the 18th, both encountered difficulties with the rough at the same time.
Mayfair hit his drive on the par-4 17th into the deep rough right, then hacked his approach into the gallery right of the green. He chipped short of the green, then chipped again to 2 feet before making his bogey putt.
Meanwhile, Price hit his drive on the par-4 closing hole left into heavy rough and blasted his second shot across the fairway into the right rough. After hitting his approach 20 feet short of the hole, he barely missed the par putt. In exasperation, he hit himself in the forehead with the shaft of his putter.
That left Price and Norman in the clubhouse at 2-under, tied with Mayfair and third-round leader Vijay Singh - both still on the course. But Singh promptly hit his approach to the 17th green into the gallery, chipped on and missed a 10-foot par putt to drop back out of the tie.
A hole ahead, Mayfair hit his iron shot even with the 18th pin and 6 feet away. Faced with a putt that would have all but assured victory, he lipped the birdie putt on the right side of the cup.
Singh had a similar putt for birdie to join the playoff, but his lipped out on the left side of the hole.
On the playoff hole, Mayfair hit short and Price long, both in the fairway. Norman caught the trees along the left side of the fairway but got a good kick that left him just a foot into the heavy rough.
Mayfair's second shot was just past the pin and left and in the first cut of rough. Norman's second shot kicked from the deep rough right of the hole and onto the fringe some 60 feet away.
Price hit his approach 22 feet from the pin and slightly below the hole.
Norman, with the worst lie of the three, then stepped up and drained his chip while a large crowd around the green went wild.
Mayfair hit his 18-foot chip past the hole, then Price left his birdie putt short.
Phil Mickelson, who had the day's low round with a 66, was alone in fourth at 1-under 279. Fred Couples, who had a 68, and first-and second-round leader Jim Gallagher Jr. came next at 280. Gallagher shot a closing 73.