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Buick Classic
Westchester Country Club
Rye, N.Y.

11th - 14th June 1998

Par 71 Prize Money $1.8 million

Final Round

Hayes defeats Furyk in playoff to claim his first PGA Tour victory

Rye, N.Y. 14th June 1998 - J.P.Hayes birdied the first playoff hole today to beat Jim Furyk and earn his first PGA Tour victory at a tournament shortened to 54 holes because of rain.

"I can't describe it and I don't think it's even hit me," Hayes said. "It's an incredible feeling of satisfaction that I could play like that under the circumstances."

Hayes said the first-prize money of $324,000 at the Buick Classic was nice -- he had only made $368,610 in five years on tour -- but nothing like the two-year exemption for PGA Tour events and the guarantee that he will not have to qualify to play on tour in 1999.

"This will be the first year in eight or nine years I am not going to fill out an application for qualifying school," he said.

Asked about his plans for next week, Hayes he would go home to El Paso, Texas, and mow the lawn. He failed to qualify for the U.S. Open but plans to watch it on television.

The 32-year-old Hayes has bounced back and forth from the PGA Tour to the Nike Tour since 1991, depending how he has done on each tour and in qualifying school.

Hayes said he surprised himself not so much by winning but by controlling his emotions doing it.

"I was calm," he said. "I thought in that situation I'd be throwing up all over myself."

Just the same, Hayes probably got a little queasy on the last hole of regulation. Trailing by one stroke, Furyk knocked the ball within 10 feet on the par-5 18th with his second shot.

Hayes was in a greenside bunker in two. He hit within two feet and, after Furyk made eagle to momentarily take the lead, Hayes tapped in for birdie to force the playoff.

Both golfers started the day tied for the lead at nine under and both shot 3-under-par 68s to finish at 201. No other golfer made a serious move.

Tom Lehman finished third at 9-under 204, thanks to six birdies in a final-round 65, the best score of the day. Bruce Fleisher was fourth at 205 after shooting a closing 69.

Furyk drove into the left rough on the playoff hole -- the 18th -- and when he tried to duplicate the sensational 241-yard 3-wood he had hit to the green minutes earlier, he hooked the ball left into even deeper rough. His wedge was on the back edge of the green, 40 feet from the cup and he missed his birdie attempt by three feet.

Hayes, meanwhile, was on the fringe in two, hit his first putt within six feet and knocked the second one into the center of the cup.

The tournament was cut to 54 holes because heavy rain and lightning prevented Friday's second round from being completed until this morning. Hayes had to play five holes in the morning and come back for the closing round in the afternoon.

Playing in the final group, Hayes and Furyk were by turns brilliant and shaky during the closing round. Hayes made birdies on Nos. 5, 6 and 7 to go 13 under and take his biggest lead of the day at three shots. Furyk's birdie on 10 narrowed Hayes' margin to two strokes.

On 14, the pressure started to get to both players when they each three-putted.

Furyk got within a stroke on 15 by drilling a 4-iron to two feet for a birdie, but both players missed putts of less than eight feet on the par-3 16th for two more bogeys.

The loss continued Furyk's frustrating, but lucrative, string of near misses.

In his last three tournaments, Furyk has finished second at the Colonial, fourth at the Memorial and second here and won $548,000. Furyk set a record in 1997 for most prize money ever earned -- $1.6 million -- without winning a tournament.

"I am real disappointed," Furyk said. "When you lose in a playoff and you have a chance to win, second isn't good enough."

Of another second-place finish, his fifth since 1997, Furyk said, "It beats the alternative. It beats playing poorly."

First-round leader Kevin Sutherland was only a stroke back as the final round started, but fell out of contention with double bogeys on Nos. 8 and 14. He also had a three-foot putt for par rim out on No. 12.

He shot a 71 and finished at 6-under 207 along with Bob Tway.

DIVOTS: "J.P." is short for John Patrick. ... Hayes' previous best finish was tying for sixth at the Anheuser Busch Golf Classic in 1992. ... Players hitting the fairways were allowed to lift, clean and place their ball within one club length because of the mushy fairways. ... This was the third tournament of 1998 to be shortened to 54 holes because of rain following the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the Buick Invitational. Players will return to Pebble Beach on Aug. 17 to play the final round of that tournament. ... Hayes joined Jesper Parnevik, Lee Westwood and Trevor Dodds as the first-time winners on the PGA Tour this year.

Final Round Scores

Second Round

Els Withdraws