PGA CHAMPIONSHIP Singh survives tough last day for third major
The 41-year-old is the 11th player to win in the last 11 majors.
HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- It was a victory only the champion could love.
Vijay Singh shot a 4-over 76 to eek into a three-way playoff, then made his only birdie of the day on the first of three extra holes to beat Justin Leonard and Chris DiMarco in the PGA Championship Sunday at Whistling Straits.
It was Singh's third major of his career and fifth victory of the year.
"It's the prettiest one, I think," Singh said after claiming the Wanamaker Trophy and a check for $1.125 million. "It looked ugly. When you look at the score, I shot 4-over. But it was a good 4-over for me."
The 41-year-old Singh is the 11th player to win in the last 11 majors and the first over 40 to win one since Mark O'Meara took the 1998 British Open at 41. Singh also joins Tiger Woods and Nick Price as the only players to win five tournaments in a year in the last 20 years; no one else has won more than twice in 2004.
"This makes my year right here," Singh said. "I wanted to win one again, one major again, and it came at the right time. I don't have that many years to contend.
"I'd like to win a few more before I finish. This is a great start and I think there's many more out there, I hope."
Singh has won eight consecutive tournaments in which he led going into the final round. He nearly gave this one away, but the rest of the field also struggled with the hard greens, stiff wind and pin placements that stretched Whistling Straits to a record 7,536 yards.
Singh was 12-under heading into the final round, one stroke in front of Leonard. But he made a double-bogey on the fourth hole, a bogey on the seventh and another on No. 15 to fall to 8-under, two strokes back.
Leonard couldn't hold the lead either, missing six putts inside 12 feet on the back nine, including a putt for par on No. 18 to win. That left the three men tied at 8- under 280.
"Justin let me off on the last hole," Singh said. "That gave me a big relief."
On the first extra hole, No. 10, Singh made a 6-foot birdie putt to put the pressure on Leonard and DiMarco. They never had a good look at birdie in the playoff; after Singh tapped in for par from 2 feet on the 18th, they didn't even need to putt out.
Leonard, playing in the final group in the PGA for the third time in eight years, he had a two-shot lead with five holes to play until his putter failed him.
"All I needed was one of them to go," Leonard said. "It's pretty hard to win a tournament, much less a major, when you do something like that."
DiMarco, who started the day five strokes behind Singh, made three birdies in four holes midway through the round to reach 10 under. His 71 was the only under-par score in the last nine groups as the course finally lived up to its fearsome hype. But he also came back to Singh on the finishing holes, missing an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th in regulation that he left just short.
In the playoff, Singh nearly drove the green on the 361-yard 10th hole, leaving himself a pitch to 6 feet. When the putt fell, it was the first time he smiled all day.
"I never gave up. I just said, 'I'm going to make a putt sooner or later,' " he said. "I waited all day for it, and it was a good time that it came."
Masters champion Phil Mickelson needed a birdie on the 18th to become the first player to finish in the top three at all four majors but tied for sixth.
Ernie Els, the runner-up in the Masters and British Open and a contender on the final day of the U.S. Open, had a three-putt bogey from 90 feet on the last hole that cost him another chance at a major.
Woods bogeyed two of the first four holes and wound up with a 73 to finish in a tie for 24th, his worst finish in the majors this year, extending his streak to 10 majors without winning. That matches the longest drought of his career.
The last time Woods lost 10 majors in a row, he won seven of the next 11.