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DiMarco finds new way to win another tourney

Lead becomes deficit during Phoenix Open

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Chris DiMarco keeps finding ways to win. The latest method is one he would rather not repeat.

His four-stroke lead turned into a one-stroke deficit in just three holes Sunday afternoon in the Phoenix Open, and DiMarco had every reason to pack it in. Instead, the collapse became a gritty comeback, with a little help from Kenny Perry.

"This one, I kind of had to hold on," DiMarco said.

That's what got him into this mess in the first place.

DiMarco closed with a 2-under 69 for this third PGA Tour victory in as many years, this one worth his largest paycheck ($720,000) and an exemption into the U.S. Open.

It was far from routine.

With birdies on four of his first nine holes, DiMarco built a four-stroke lead and was cruising along the TPC of Scottsdale until he made the final round more exciting than it needed to be.

Of course, he wasn't alone.

Perry, who had a 70 to finish one stroke behind with Kaname Yokoo (64), could have wrapped it up had he not missed an 18-inch putt on No. 13 and taken four shots from about 100 feet to get in the hole on No. 17.

John Daly had his chances, too, tied for the lead after three holes until turning into the "Wild Thing" off the tee and dropping five shots over his next seven holes. He finished strong and tied for fourth, along with Lee Janzen (64).

For DiMarco, the final eight holes looked too easy.

"It's hard to have a four-shot lead, because I'm an aggressive player, and it's hard for me just to aim for the middle of the greens and try to two-putt," he said.

DiMarco had a hard time, all right.

His drive on No. 11 went under a tree, leading to double bogey. His tee shot on the par-3 12th went left into a bunker for another bogey. Perry holed a 20-foot putt for birdie, and suddenly was tied for the lead.

DiMarco's next drive went in the water, giving him another bogey.

"Next thing I know, Kenny Perry has got an eagle putt to go 3-up on me," said.

Then, it became Perry's turn to fold. The eagle putt stopped 18 inches from the cup, and Perry pulled the short birdie putt to the left.

"That really killed me," Perry said. "I missed a gimme."

It brought new life to DiMarco, who realized he only had to make up one stroke over a closing stretch of holes where birdie opportunities are plentiful. He wasted no time, hitting into 15 feet for birdie.

Perry reclaimed the lead with a birdie on the 15th, and then DiMarco pulled even during a bizarre exchange on the 16th.

The 171-yard hole is the most raucous in golf, an arena-like setting in which it only seems like the 119,600 fans who showed up Sunday all packed onto one hole. One man stood out in particular to DiMarco.

His 8-iron into 18 inches left him a simple birdie putt, but as he stood over the ball, the fan screamed, "Noonan!"

That's a famous line from the movie "Caddyshack," when kids are shouting as Danny Noonan tries to hole the winning putt in the caddie tournament.

They both had the same ending.

"It gave me a little incentive to make the putt," DiMarco said.

He did just that to draw even with Perry, then made a gesture with his thumb and told tournament officials to get the man off the TPC of Scottsdale.

"I think he missed the ending," DiMarco said.

That was the fan's loss. The Phoenix Open had a few more twists and turns.

DiMarco had to get up-and-down for par on the 332-yard 17th and was figuring how in the world he was going to hit the 18th fairway with his driver. He didn't have to, not after Perry three-putted from 30 feet for bogey on the 17th to fall one stroke behind.

It finally ended with DiMarco two-putting from about 50 feet on the 18th and Perry's birdie putt burning the right edge of the cup.

For Perry, it was the third time this year that he has played in the final group without winning.

"I feel like I've squandered three tournaments," he said.

Daly might feel the same way.

He was in the trees most of the front nine — the first time to relieve himself after hitting his tee shot on No. 2, the rest of them trying to swing around or hit through the mesquite and ironwoods trees at Scottsdale.

After a birdie-par-eagle start gave him a share of the lead, three bad drives led to three bogeys, and he added a double bogey on No. 11 for good measure, an 8-iron that flew the green and into the water.

He finished strong with another eagle on No. 15 and a two-putt birdie on the 17th.

"I hung in there. I gave it my best shot," Daly said. "Hopefully, I'll get in contention more and maybe one day I'll come out on top."

That seemed to work just fine for DiMarco.

JOHNNIE WALKER CLASSIC: U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen won the Johnnie Walker Classic, struggling with a 1-over 73 but cushioned with such a big lead he still won by eight strokes.

The South African entered the final round of the $1.25 million tournament ahead by 13 strokes, a European PGA Tour record. Goosen tied a course record with a 9-under 63 Saturday.

Pierre Fulke of Sweden was the runner-up after a 66 for a 282.

SOUTH AFRICAN PGA: Chris Williams of England is once again the South African PGA champion — 17 years later.

Williams shot a 4-under-par 68 to beat Hennie Otto by two strokes. Bruce Vaughan of the United States (67 Sunday) and Martin du Toit of South Africa (65) tied for third place at 14 under.