Jason Dufner beat Ernie Els with a birdie on the second hole of a playoff Sunday in the Zurich Classic in Avondale, La., to win for the first time in 164 starts on the PGA Tour.
Dufner shot a 2-under 70 at TPC Louisiana. Els had a 67 to match Dufner at 19-under 269.
After both players missed birdie putts within 8 feet on the par-5 18th, they went back to the 18th tee for the second extra hole, which Dufner won by hitting the green in two strokes and tapping home a short birdie putt after Els’ birdie attempt from the fringe narrowly missed.
Dufner lost playoffs last year to Mark Wilson in the Phoenix Open and Keegan Bradley in the PGA Championship for two of his three career runner-up finishes.
“It’s always really tough playing on Sundays whether you’re in lead or middle of pack, and today I was fighting, trying to win the event, and I think I showed myself a good bit out there,” Dufner said. “It was tough. Ernie made a great run at me and it felt like with five or six holes (to go) we were probably going to be battling for the win.
“To get the monkey off of my back, it’s a great feeling.”
The 6-foot-3 Els hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, a little more than two years ago.
He did not have a bogey in the final round or playoff, and would have won his 19th career PGA Tour event if he could have made a birdie putt of a little less than 6 feet on the first playoff hole. He pushed it more than 2 feet past the edge of the hole.
On the second playoff hole, Els’ tee shot went into a fairway bunker, and his second shot landed 137 yards from the pin. His third shot landed on the fringe, 19 feet from the pin, but he nearly saved birdie from there, his putt missing by 2 inches.
Luke Donald shot a 67 to finish third at 17 under, and move past Rory McIlroy for the No. 1 ranking.
LEWIS HOLDS ON
Stacy Lewis won the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, holding off hard-charging teen Lexi Thompson by a stroke in Mobile, Ala.
Lewis, who held a five-stroke lead early in the day, reclaimed the edge with a birdie on No. 16, while Thompson, 17, parred the final hole and had to wait.
Lewis parred out.
Lewis has five top 10s in eight events this year, including a tie for second in the Women’s Australian Open.
“I’m getting more comfortable in this situation,” said Lewis, who earned $187,500. “I think that’s a lot of it, and it’s definitely been coming. I lost in a playoff in Australia, so I knew I was due.”
Luke List won the South Georgia Classic for his first Nationwide Tour title with a 4-under 68 for a two-stroke victory over Brian Stuard in Valdosta, Ga. … Bernd Wiesberger won the Ballantine’s Championship for his first European Tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a five-stroke victory in Seoul, South Korea. Wiesberger finished at 18-under 270, with Scotland’s Richie Ramsay in second after a final-round 65.
TRACKING LOCAL GOLFERS ON PGA Tour
This week: Zurich Classic of New Orleans, through Sunday, TPC Louisiana, Avondale, La.
In the field: University Place’s Michael Putnam and Tacoma’s Troy Kelly.
Kelly’s fourth-round score: 2-under-par 70.
Position: Kelly (4-under 284) tied for 62nd, 15 strokes behind winner Jason Dufner (269), who defeated Ernie Els in a sudden-death playoff. Kelly earned $13,632. Putnam missed the cut Friday.
Recap: Kelly started the tournament with a 69, and ended it with an under-par score. A good start – two opening birdies – helped. He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at No. 13 to get to 5-under before it took him three shots to reach the par-3 17th green, and he suffered a late bogey.
Next for Kelly: Wells Fargo Championship starting Thursday at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. (with Puyallup’s Ryan Moore and Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley).Todd Milles, email@example.com