Golf | Kaufman captures Vegas title

Las Vegas – Smylie Kaufman, a 23-year-old
American playing only his fifth PGA Tour event, fired a 10-under par 61 on Sunday
to win the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Kaufman, who trailed by seven strokes when
the day began, fired eight birdies and an eagle in the final round at TPC
Summerlin to finish on 16-under par 268.

That was one stroke ahead of a pack of six
rivals who kept Kaufman on the edge of his seat as he watched one after another
fail to match his clubhouse lead.

“I dodged a lot of bullets with guys
coming down the stretch,” Kaufman said. “It’s a lot worse watching
than it is on the course.”

Kaufman, ranked 226th in the world, secured
a two-year tour stay and a berth in next year’s Masters among other champion’s

“It’s unbelievable, Kaufman said.
“I can’t even put it into words.”

Americans Patton Kizzire, Cameron Tringale,
Jason Bohn, Kevin Na and Brett Stegmaier plus Germany’s Alex Cejka shared second
on 269 with Americans William McGirt and Chad Campbell next on 270, McGirt
after a 62.

Kaufman birdied the second, birdied four
holes in a row starting at the eighth, sandwiched birdies at the par-5 13th and
16th around a 13-foot eagle putt at 15, and closed with a birdie.

“I was in rhythm all day,”
Kaufman said. “Front nine I hit it well and didn’t get the putts. I got an
eight-footer for birdie at eight and that got the round going.”

Kaufman’s father was a US college coach of
Northern Ireland star Graeme McDowell.

“I still use a couple things he taught
me,” Kaufman said of McDowell. “He taught me to go up and down the
shaft with my hand to control the distances. He taught me how to hit a

Kaufman then watched as his rivals one by
one could not match him down the stretch, with Na providing the biggest scare.
Na hit a 25-foot birdie putt at the par-5 16th to match Kaufman for the lead
but missed a 12-foot par putt at the par-3 17th to fall back and then missed a
15-foot birdie putt at 18.

“I was in a good position,” Na
said. “Came up short.”

Stegmaier, who had considered quitting golf
as a career earlier this year, birdied 15 and 16 to pull within a shot and had
a 22-foot birdie putt on 18 to force a playoff, but left it inches short.

“I was really calm. I knew what I had
to do,” Stegmaier said. “It was downhill all the way. I like to have
my putts die in the hole. That’s the risk you take, coming up short. I can’t be
too disappointed but it stings a little bit.”

Leading scores after Sunday’s final round of the US PGA Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (USA unless noted, par-71):

268 – Smylie Kaufman 67-72-68-61

– Patton Kizzire 65-69-72-63, Cameron Tringale 68-65-70-66, Jason Bohn
68-66-69-66, Alex Cejka (GER) 67-70-66-66, Kevin Na 68-66-68-67, Brett
Stegmaier 66-66-68-69

270 – William McGirt 66-73-69-62, Chad Campbell 65-67-70-68

271 – Russell Henley 68-69-68-66

272 – Nick Watney 67-66-72-67, Morgan Hoffmann 66-66-69-71

273 – Patrick Rodgers 65-71-71-66, Brendon de Jonge (ZIM) 67-66-73-67, Jamie Lovemark 70-69-66-68

– John Senden (AUS) 70-65-72-67, Fabian Gomez (ARG) 69-68-70-67, Tony
Finau 69-71-66-68, Ryan Palmer 65-69-72-68, Camilo Villegas (COL)
67-69-70-68, Kevin Streelman 68-67-71-68, Scott Stallings 68-71-67-68,
Michael Kim 70-67-69-68, Daniel Summerhays 68-65-72-69

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