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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > PGA Tour > Chrysler Classic of Tucson > Round 4
 

CHRYSLER CLASSIC OF TUCSON RELATED STORIES





Kirk Triplett clinches title with closing 63

Kirk Triplett was nowhere near the leaderboard through two rounds at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Yet when it was over, it was Triplett hoisting the golden conquistador helmet and celebrating his first PGA Tour victory in three seasons.

"It just came out of nowhere," he said.

Triplett opened his final round Sunday with five straight birdies and added another four in a row over the back nine, shooting a 63 to earn his third PGA Tour victory and first since the 2003 Reno-Tahoe Open.

With a 22-under 266, Triplett finished a shot ahead of Jerry Kelly. Duffy Waldorf, the second- and third-round leader who seemed poised for his first victory in six years, shot 72 and tied for third at 19 under with Bubba Watson (70) and Heath Slocum (68).

Triplett won $540,000 from the $3 million purse, but nobody saw this coming -- at least not until his spectacular chip-in at No. 17.

"That won the tournament for me, for sure," Triplett said.

During the first round, Triplett chunked a ball into a pond and knocked another out of bounds the next day. Near the end of Round 2, he three-putted from 10 feet and wondered if he'd need to scramble on the closing holes to make the cut at 5 under.

"I was grumbling. I wanted to go home," said Triplett, who lives up the road in Scottsdale, Ariz. "I called my wife and said I was coming home. She said, 'There's nothing to do here. Why don't you stay down there and practice?' So I did."

Not only that, he won.

Triplett, who turns 44 next month, was 17 under over the last two rounds. His 63 was the lowest final round by a Tucson winner since Johnny Miller's 61 in 1975, but there probably would have been a playoff if not for the shot of the tournament on No. 17.

Dueling with Waldorf and Kelly down the stretch, Triplett knew he needed to stay aggressive. So he hit a 5-iron on the 186-yard par-3 and his ball settled on the fringe left of the flag, 51 feet from the hole.

Instead of being upset about missing the green, Triplett simply lined up the chip.

"The lie was excellent," he said. "It was just a perfect little sand wedge chip. I ran it onto the green and let it roll out. I hit it, looked up and saw where it went and thought, 'Oh, good. Perfect speed.' It turned out to be the perfect line, too."

Triplett bent at the knees as the ball moved toward the hole, then raised his arms in celebration and cheered along with the gallery.

He closed with a par on No. 18 and waited to see if Kelly could catch him.

There was a some drama when Kelly's approach on the 18th stopped 10 feet past the pin. But he misread the birdie try and it pushed just right of the hole. There would be no playoff in the final edition of Tucson's 60-year-old stroke-play tournament.

"I had probably six putts like that I missed," Kelly said. "I shot 7 under but I had five putts within six to eight feet and didn't go in. It was one of those rounds where I could have gotten a lot more out of it. But it was still a good round."

Barring a resurrection in future years, Triplett will be the last golfer to win the conquistador helmet trophy in Tucson.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced earlier Sunday the city will host the Match Play Championship for the next four years.

Triplett played in only 18 events last season because of an elbow injury, missing three months after surgery to repair damaged tendons. His best finish was a tie for ninth at last year's Match Play.

"When you're off for a long time and you come back, you expect your game to come back fast," Triplett said.

Waldorf led at 19 under when he made the turn despite a three-putt bogey on the ninth. He recovered with a nice sand save birdie from just below the hole at No. 10 to reach 20 under but then went stale, making par on the next six holes.

That's when Kelly and Triplett made their moves.

Kelly had a lot of fun, judging from his broad smiles and the way he pointed his finger to coax a 17-foot birdie try on No. 9. When it curled under the hole, he raised his arms in an appeal to laughing fans.

"There's always positives when you shoot 65 to finish second," Kelly said. "It's just that the positives hurt a whole lot more than usual." ^Divots: Triplett's other win was the 2000 Nissan Open. ... Watson, the long-hitting rookie who used a pink-shafted driver for his booming shots, didn't bogey all week. ... Bret Wetterich opened with a birdie, eagle and birdie, making a 31-foot putt for the eagle.

 

 




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