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Hoch wins Western Open in thriller

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LEMONT, Ill. — Like any 17-year-old boy, Cameron Hoch has a lot going on during the summer. And let's face it, spending weeks following Dad around golf courses isn't quite as cool as it used to be.

But when Scott Hoch made a birdie putt early in the final round of the Western Open, Cameron was right there to give his father a high-five. Yeah, Old Dad can still pull off some tricks.

Just look what he did later on.

Scott Hoch made a 1 1/2-foot putt on the 18th to beat Davis Love III by one stroke for his 10th career win. He also set tournament and course records with a 21-under 267 total, and his 8-under 64 was the low round of the week.

"My family being here, that's the most special," said Hoch, who walked off the 18th green in triumph surrounded by his wife and two children. "I appreciate them being out because I do play much better when the family is out here."

Mike Weir and Brandel Chamblee finished eight strokes back at 275. Tiger Woods was never a factor, shooting a 71 that left him 13 strokes back in a tie for 20th.

With a tie for 12th in the U.S. Open and a tie for 16th in the Buick Classic, Woods has finished out of the top 10 in his last three tournaments. It's the first time that's happened since 1998.

"It's not like I am struggling to break 90 out there," he said. "I struggled today, yes, but I am still shooting under-par rounds."

Phil Mickelson, who started the day just five strokes back, plummeted off the leaderboard with a quadruple bogey on the par-4 No. 3. He shot a 76 to finish 16 strokes back.

Love had been rock solid all week, leading after the second and third rounds and looking like he wasn't going to give up any ground Sunday.

But Hoch hung close, waiting for Love to make even the slightest of mistakes.

"My game plan was to stick with him, close as I could, just get within shouting distance and maybe he'd get tired and hit some poor shots," Hoch said. "I think that's what happened."

Love made a mistake on the long par-4 16th, sending his second shot into some deep rough downhill from the green. But Hoch didn't take advantage, as his 12-foot birdie putt stopped about a foot short.

Hoch swung his putter like a baseball bat, but he couldn't move it any farther along. When he tapped in, he closed his eyes and tipped his head back in frustration.

But Love made another mistake on 18, and this time, Hoch jumped on it. Hoch teed off first, putting a perfect shot in the middle of the fairway about 180 yards from the green.

Love teed off — and launched his drive so far left it almost hit the corporate tents.

"I don't know what happened," Love said. "Just jumped at it a little bit and tried to maybe get a little more out of it. I don't know. That was definitely my worst swing of the day."

He recovered to reach the green with his third shot, but his 12-foot putt for par lost speed as it reached the hole and slid by on the left side.

As the crowd groaned, Love bent his knees and frowned.

That meant Hoch just had to make his putt, and the Western Open title was his.

"I said let's just stay in the moment, don't look ahead," Hoch said. "When it went in, it just felt great. This is special."

The victory, the second of the year for the 45-year-old, earned Hoch $648,000 and gave him a career-high $2,504,686 for the season. It also moved him from 16th to seventh in the Ryder Cup standings.

The top 10 get automatic bids, and Curtis Strange has two captain's picks.

Hoch's 267 total is the lowest in the 99-year history of the Western Open. The previous overall low was 20-under 268, set by Sam Snead in 1949 at Keller in St. Paul, Minn. Chi Chi Rodriguez also shot a 268 in 1964 on the par-71 Tam O'Shanter in Niles.

The old record at Cog Hill was 19-under 269, done by Nick Price in 1993.

"This is probably the biggest tournament I've won," Hoch said. "And to win two in a year, especially as old as I am, that's something special."

Divots: Love's finish moved him from fourth to third in the Ryder Cup standings, passing David Duval. . . . Dudley Hart's drive on the par-5 9th flew into a garbage can. He still ended up with a par. "We didn't have to pull it out," Hart said. "Good thing I didn't have to search through the garbage." . . . Attendance for the week was 197,715, the highest since 1997. . . . The total purse for the Western Open was a record $3.6 million. The tournament is sponsored by Advil.