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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2007 > PGA Tour > Ginn sur Mer Classic at Tesoro > Round 4
 

GINN SUR MER CLASSIC RELATED STORIES





Daniel Chopra holds on to claim first win

Daniel Chopra tapped in for par, then pumped his right fist into the air.

Finally, victory was his.

Chopra re-claimed the outright lead with a birdie at the par-5 16th hole Monday morning and held on to win the oft-delayed Ginn sur Mer Classic, edging Fredrik Jacobsen and Shigeki Mauryama by one shot for his first PGA Tour triumph.

"It's amazing," Chopra said. "It's something that I've dreamed about for a long time."

Chopra finished at 19 under, becoming the 12th first-time winner on tour this season.

The win came in Chopra's 133rd career start, and the $810,000 winner's check pushed his career earnings to just shy of $5 million. He saw a four-shot lead over his nearest pursuers evaporate as darkness fell on Tesoro Club Sunday night, then returned in the morning and coolly finished off the long-awaited win.

"Coming from India, growing up there, having to fly overseas just to buy golf balls because you couldn't buy them in India at the time, to think I could come from there to being a winner on the PGA Tour, it's pretty special," said the Swedish-born Chopra, who moved to India when he was 7 and raised by his grandparents.

Maruyama left with one pretty good consolation prize -- a card for next season.

His tie for second earned him $396,000, vaulting him from 137th to 103rd on the money list with just one tournament remaining, meaning he's a cinch to finish among the top 125 and have full playing privileges next season. Not bad, considering he was at No. 208 on the list earlier this year.

"This year was really hard, the most difficult year in eight years for myself," said Maruyama, who had been in the top 80 on the money list in each of his first seven years on tour. "I'm really happy."

He won't have to worry about playing next week's Children's Miracle Network Classic at the Disney courses near Orlando, either.

"Bye, bye, Disney," Maruyama said in perfect English.

Jacobsen's finish was his best in 96 starts on tour.

Dicky Pride (64) was alone in fourth at 16 under, earning $216,000 -- the second-biggest check of his career, $9,000 shy of what he earned for winning the 1994 St. Jude Classic.

He was at the course Monday morning, just in case there was a playoff.

"Couldn't take the chance," Pride said. "I didn't want my wife to drive home alone, but I had to stay."

Chopra, Maruyama and Jacobsen all entered the morning 18 under, with Chopra having three holes left to play and the others with two. That figured to give Chopra a big edge, since his first hole of Monday was the par-5 16th, the easiest on the course this week and one he'd already made birdie on three times.

Make it four.

Chopra's 10-footer for birdie -- after missing the fairway off the tee -- gave him a one-shot lead, after Maruyama and Jacobsen both missed the green and scrambled for par at the par-3 17th.

"Well, 17 is not an easy hole, especially not starting on it," Jacobsen said. "You warm up, you do everything and then you're riding a car out to the tee and playing for a tournament when you're trying to finish off a round as well. ... You feel the pulse going a bit."

Chopra didn't find 17 easy, either. He hit the green, albeit 55 feet from the hole, and made a 4-footer to save par and maintain the lead. And at the 18th, needing par to win, his drive found a bunker, but his second shot stopped 25 feet from the hole to set up the title-clinching two-putt.

In a week filled with weather delays, wet conditions and six-hour rounds, he simply survived. Chopra had been close before, with 13 previous top-10 finishes, and finally got it done.

"If you keep putting yourself, sooner or later you break through," Jacobsen said. "It's got to happen and this time he did very well."

Ken Duke (70), Charlie Wi (71), Sean O'Hair (74) and Cameron Beckman (72) finished tied for fifth at 13 under. That was huge for Beckman, who jumped 10 spots to 118th on the money list after winning nearly $160,000 at the Ginn and greatly enhancing his odds of reaching that top-125 plateau.

Bob Estes and Tommy Armour III, who shared the lead after the first two rounds, struggled on the weekend. Estes shot a final-round 77 and finished tied for 12th at 11 under, while Armour shot 78-72 and finished tied for 16th.

Briny Baird, who lives just a few miles from Tesoro Club and was tied for second entering the final round, shot 78 and finished nine shots back.

Bad light forces play in to a Monday finish

Just when it looked as if Daniel Chopra would roll to his first PGA Tour win, things began to fall apart.

Shigeki Maruyama and Fredrik Jacobsen were thrilled to take advantage.

Maruyama holed out from the sand for eagle at the par-5 16th to get into a three-way tie for the lead, Jacobsen moved steadily up the leaderboard all day, and Chopra simply unraveled on the back nine Sunday at the Ginn sur Mer Classic -- setting the stage for a potentially wild finish Monday morning at Tesoro Club.

Play was suspended for the day by darkness with Maruyama, Jacobsen and Chopra all at 18 under, two shots ahead of clubhouse leader Dicky Pride.

"They're never easy. They're never supposed to be easy," Chopra said. "And if I do come out on top, I'm glad it was this way. You obviously treasure it so much more when you've got to really fight for it and work for it, and I'll have to do that tomorrow morning."

Momentum-wise, it's advantage Maruyama and Jacobsen, who were on the rise.

Logistically, it's clearly advantage Chopra. When final-round play resumes at 8 a.m. Monday, he'll start on the par-5 16th hole -- the easiest on the course and one he's birdied three times already.

"I don't want to worry about what anyone else is doing," said Jacobsen, who, like Maruyama, will start on the par-3 17th.

Chopra had a four-shot lead when he made the turn Sunday afternoon, having just tapped in a 2-footer for a birdie that pushed him to 20 under. But two bogeys in his first four holes on the back side gave his closest pursuers a chance.

Sean O'Hair was alone in fifth at 14 under with two holes remaining, while Ken Duke, Cameron Beckman and Charlie Wi were all knotted in sixth place another shot back.

Bob Estes and Briny Baird, tied for second behind Chopra when the third round ended Sunday morning, were both 3 over through 15 holes of the final round and fell six shots off the lead.

It's already been a long week, for a variety of factors: Players aren't yet familiar with the course, there's been a lift-clean-and-place allowance because of the spongy conditions, and long hikes between many greens and tees.

Simply put, this was as much of a mental test as it was a physical one.

"I don't know if I can say it much better than that," said Pride, who matched the low round of a week with a 64 that got him to 16 under -- capped by four straight birdies.

Chopra's threesome needed nearly 3 hours to play the front nine Sunday.

They would have gotten there, too, if it wasn't for Chopra's 98-yard pitch to within 2 feet. He tapped in for birdie -- and a four-shot lead -- to reach the midpoint of his round 2 hours, 59 minutes after teeing off.

But as the day wore on, Chopra's lead simply vanished.

"Brutal," Chopra said.

Baird's chances took a hit on his first final-round hole; his tee ball sailed out-of-bounds and he made double bogey. Estes, who led after 18 and 36 holes, also fizzled with three early bogeys.

Meanwhile, Maruyama -- who came into the week at No. 137 on the money list and needed a big finish -- started moving. His final round opened with three straight birdies.

"The golf course got a lot longer and I struggled a little bit," said Maruyama, who hasn't won on tour since 2003.

Those struggles didn't show, and he'll be in the top 125 on the money list -- in position to earn full playing privileges in 2008 -- after finishing Monday.

The third round didn't end until 10:39 a.m., and the fourth round wasn't started until noon so workers could try to make some waterlogged holes playable.

No, Tesoro Club was not fit for man, beast or John Daly.

He withdrew for the sixth time this season after a 6-over 79 in the third round, without citing a reason. Daly was 4 over, comfortably in last place, and bogeyed three of the four holes he played.

Daniel Chopra moves two shots ahead

Swede Daniel Chopra birdied two of the last seven holes to move two strokes clear in the weather-hit third round of the Ginn sur Mer Classic at Port St. Lucie, Florida on Sunday.

Although the 33-year-old bogeyed the last after missing a seven-footer, he took control of the PGA Tour's penultimate event of the season by firing a four-under-par 69.

In pursuit of his maiden Tour title, Chopra picked up shots at the par-three 12th and par-five 16th on his way to a 17-under total of 202 in rain-sodden conditions at Tesoro Club.

His American playing partner Bob Estes, tied for the lead overnight after 11 holes, produced a roller-coaster finish for a 72 and a share of second spot.

A four-times winner on the PGA Tour, Estes bogeyed the 13th and 14th after play resumed on Sunday morning before eagling the par-five 16th.

He then missed a four-footer to bogey the par-three 17th, ending the round level with compatriot Briny Baird, whose sparkling 65 included nine birdies and one bogey.

Swede Fredrik Jacobson birdied the final hole for a 67 and a tie for fourth with Japan's Shigeki Maruyama (68) and American Sean O'Hair (69).

The globe-trotting Chopra, born to a Swedish mother and Indian father, was delighted to be on track for his first title on the world's biggest tour.

"There's a lot at stake now as I get closer and closer to that finish line for my first win on the PGA Tour," the Stockholm native told reporters. "It's a big thing."

He was fully prepared for a marathon last day at rain-battered Tesoro after the third round spilled over into Sunday.

"We've got a 24-hole final round," said Chopra, who had never previously held a PGA Tour lead after 54 holes.

"We have a lot of time to gain momentum, you know. It's one of those days where you feel like I've got a lot of holes to play."

The fourth round was scheduled to start at 1200 local (1600 GMT) and provision has been made by tournament organizers for a possible Monday finish.

For the fourth day in a row, players have been allowed to lift, clean and replace golf balls on the fairways because of the wet, muddy conditions.

 

 




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