Golf Roundup

Palmer’s final-hole birdie cools off red-hot Allenby

Tom Watson (left) and Jack Nicklaus teamed to win the Champions Skins Game in Hawaii. Tom Watson (left) and Jack Nicklaus teamed to win the Champions Skins Game in Hawaii. (Ed Kageyama/Associated Press)
Associated Press / January 18, 2010

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Ryan Palmer went from anxious to overwhelmed in a matter of seconds when his chip hit the pin and left him a tap-in for birdie and a one-shot victory over Robert Allenby yesterday in the Sony Open at Honolulu.

Palmer, tied with Allenby over the final three holes Sunday, came up short of the green on the par-5 18th. After Allenby chipped from behind the green to just inside 10 feet, Palmer’s chip bounced in front of the cup and struck the pin squarely, settling inches away.

Palmer thought his chip was a smidgen too hard, and he tumbled backward in relief when the ball struck the pin squarely. Allenby missed his birdie putt, and Palmer tapped in for a 4-under-par 66 and his third career PGA Tour victory.

“Lucky bounce,’’ Palmer said. “It was probably going to go by 7 or 8 feet. I still hit a good chip. You need things like that to win.’’

The victory made the 33-year-old Texan exempt on the PGA Tour through 2012, and earned him a trip back to the Masters for the first time in five years.

Allenby was trying to win his third consecutive tournament on three tours, a feat believed to have never been accomplished, and he gave himself every chance. He played bogey-free on the back nine, but he needed one more birdie.

His second shot out of the rough on the 18th came out hot and over the green, and he did well to give himself a realistic chance at birdie and a playoff.

Allenby, who won the Nedbank Challenge on the Sunshine Tour and the Australian PGA Championship on the Australasian PGA Tour at the end of last year, closed with a 67.

Steve Stricker, who also shared the lead briefly on the back nine, had a 65 to finish third, two strokes back. Two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen closed with a 62 and finished fourth.

Champions - Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson held off defending champions Fuzzy Zoeller and Ben Crenshaw to win the Champions Skins Game in Kaanapali, Hawaii. Nicklaus and Watson birdied two holes to win three skins and $130,000 on the back nine. They finished with 10 skins and $350,000 for their second win in the event in four years.

On a balmy day on Maui, Zoeller-Crenshaw took five straight skins for $230,000 to finish second in the alternate-shot event that will be televised next month. They were trying to become the first team to repeat after winning a record $530,000 last year.

European - Charl Schwartzel of South Africa claimed his second straight European Tour title, shooting a 5-under 66 to pull away for a six-stroke victory at the Joburg Open in Johannesburg.