David Duval blew a seven-shot lead, then recovered with a dramatic, 15-foot chip for birdie and beat Justin Leonard and David Toms by four strokes Sunday in the $2 million Tucson Chrysler Classic.
Duval finished in style, sinking a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to create the illusion of an easy victory. It was anything but simple.Duval, who won three consecutive starts at the end of last season, won his fourth title despite shooting 1-over-par 73. He finished with a four-day total of 19-under 269.
Leonard, Duval's playing partner all four rounds, shot a final-round 70 that included a bogey on the 18th hole.
He caught up with Duval at 17-under on the 14th hole and shared the lead on No. 15. But Leonard bogeyed No. 16 when he two-putted after chipping onto the green, and Duval made his chip.
Toms closed with a strong 68, but also bogeyed the last hole.
Tim Herron and Steve Lowery shared fourth place at 275, with Tom Lehman, Andrew Magee and Bob Tway at 276.
The $360,000 winner's share boosted Duval, who was second on the money list last year with $1,885,308, to first at $553,663.
The sixth-year player won his first title last October in Williamsburg, Va., then picked up wins No. 2 and 3 in successive starts at Orlando, Fla., and the Tour Championship in Houston to earn $1,269,000 in his last three events.
Duval flirted with the record book throughout the first three rounds in this tournament. But he dropped back on the final three holes of the third round, which he played in double bogey-birdie-bogey.
That took him out of reach of John Huston's PGA-low 22-under total at last week's Hawaiian Open. Duval started the last round at 20-under, but still led Leonard by six shots as late as the ninth hole.
Duval bogeyed No. 9 and Leonard birdied, a preview of the drama to come on the back nine.
Toms and Leonard were 16-under through nine holes and made the turn four shots back.
But Duval birdied No. 10, while Leonard made par and Toms took a double bogey-6 after some incredible bad luck - his approach shot hit a sprinkler head, bounced 100 feet over the green, and he two-putted after two chips.
The 13th and 14th holes were pivotal. Duval entered them with a four-shot lead and left tied with Leonard at 17-under after losing four shots to par.
Duval triple-bogeyed No. 13, a 406-yard downhill hole with a slight dogleg left, where he hooked his tee shot out of bounds by less than a foot. After hitting another drive, Duval knocked his approach shot over the green and three-putted from the fringe.
On the same hole, Leonard made a 10-foot birdie putt, completing a three-shot swing.
Leonard caught up on No. 14 with a par after two-putting from 9 feet.
Duval's approach game, his strength all week while shooting 66-62-68 the first three rounds, deserted him again on the 14th. His second shot landed in a bunker, and he blasted out across the green again, two-putting from 18 feet for a bogey-5.
Duval steadied himself by parring the 15th hole, got his two-shot edge back on No. 16, and picked up two more shots on the finishing hole.
Sr. PGA American Express
SARASOTA, Fla. - Larry Nelson's long wait for his first Senior PGA Tour title ended in style Sunday with a four-stroke victory in the American Express Invitational.
Nelson, who was expected to become an immediate force on the Senior Tour after turning 50 in September, arrived at the American Express with six Top 10 finishes in eight tournament appearances, but winless.
That changed with a final-round 2-under-par 70 around wind-ravaged Tournament Players Club at Prestancia that gave Nelson a 54-hole total of 13-under 203.
As 25 mph winds that gusted to 35 tormented the field, Nelson finished four shots in front of runnerup Dave Stockton, who closed with an even-par 72.
George Archer and Vicente Fernandez finished five shots back at 8-under.
Although Nelson won 10 PGA Tour titles, including three major championships, the $180,000 winner's check is the largest of his professional career.
"That was some kind of day," Nelson said. "I pretty much enjoyed the whole day. I hit it in trouble a couple of times, but really didn't hit any bad shots until I saw I had a five shot lead and kind of relaxed a little bit and made a bogey.
"But I played solid and kept the ball in play. That's what you needed to do today."
Although the wind did not seem to bother Nelson, who finished the day with two birdies and one bogey, it was a factor. Fifty golfers shot over par, four in the 80s.
Raymond Floyd made 11 on the par-5 15th when he put three balls in a hazard and Jack Nicklaus made 8 on the same hole.
Tommy Aaron took an 8 on the par-3 16th. J.C. Snead was assessed a two-shot penalty after he replaced his ball on the fourth green when wind moved it some five feet away from the hole.