Buick ends with Kaye

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003

HARRISON, N.Y. Jonathan Kaye made quick work of the par-5 18th hole and dispatched John Rollins in a hurry, too.

After birdieing the 526-yard hole twice in regulation Sunday, Kaye made a 12-foot eagle putt from the back fringe on the first hole of a playoff with Rollins to win the Buick Classic his first PGA Tour title.

''I had the exact same number to the pin the first time around coming through there,'' Kaye said of his approach shot from 252 yards. ''I hit it pretty good the first time, but I misjudged the wind. The second time, I had a little better angle and I knew I could hit it as hard as I could.''

On the final hole of regulation, he holed a 4-foot birdie putt to match Rollins at 13-under 271 on the saturated Westchester Country Club course.

''That was definitely more pressure. If you don't birdie 18, you're not in the playoff,'' said Kaye, a five-time runner-up who lost a playoff to Chris Riley last year in the Reno-Tahoe Open. ''I've had a lot of chances and haven't come through, so it's nice to finally come out on top. That's why we're all out here to win.''

Kaye played 30 holes Sunday, completing the rain-delayed third round with a 3-under 68 and matching Rollins who missed a 12-foot birdie putt in the playoff before Kaye's winning eagle with a 67 in the final round.

''It was a long day,'' Kaye said. ''It was hard walking around on this wet, soggy grass. And my knee was bothering me, too.''

After bogeying his final hole Saturday to drop to 6 under, Kaye played the last 11 holes of the third round in 3 under and reached 12 under in the fourth round with birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 7. He bogeyed the par-5 ninth, but got back to 12 under with a birdie on No. 14 and tied Rollins on No. 18.

Kaye earned $900,000 for his breakthrough victory, two years after the 32-year-old former University of Colorado player was suspended by the tour for a confrontation with a tournament security guard during the Michelob Championship.

With security heightened a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Kaye, upset after the guard prevented him from entering the locker room without his tour money clip, returned with the identification clip attached to the zipper of his pants.

''Let's just leave that alone. It's done,'' Kaye said. ''Nobody really knows what happened there except me and that guard, and I can assure you that what he said happened didn't happen.''

Rollins shot 67s in the final three rounds to reach his second career playoff. Last year in the Canadian Open, he beat Justin Leonard and Neal Lancaster with a birdie on the first extra hole after Lancaster double-bogeyed the final hole of regulation.

''It's always tough when you just stand around and wait for everybody to finish and then have to start over,'' Rollins said. ''That's the way it happened and I just didn't get the job done when I needed to. And Jonathan made a great eagle putt in the playoff, so my hat's off to him.''

Joey Sindelar (70-68) finished third at 11 under, and Sergio Garcia (66-69) was another stroke back along with Fred Funk (64-69), Jay Haas (67-65) and Skip Kendall (70-70). Briny Baird, tied for the third-round lead after topping the field the first two days, closed with a 77 to tie for 30th at 3 under.

Tiger Woods, winless since the Bay Hill Invitational in March, had rounds of 71 and 70 to tie for 13th at 7 under. He's struggled in four appearances in the tournament, one of only five tour events he has played more than once without winning.

He was three strokes back after the third round, but failed to pressure the leaders for the second straight week. Last week in the U.S. Open, he closed with rounds of 75 and 72 to tie for 20th 11 strokes behind winner Jim Furyk.

Garcia, the 2001 winner, bogeyed the 18th hole taking four strokes from inside 40 feet after hitting an aggressive second shot over the green and into the deep rough.

''I'm thinking birdie to go to a playoff and eagle to win,'' Garcia said. ''It's just one of those things. I played well and put myself in a position to win. That's the most important thing.''



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