Date: July 02, 2007

Elk left to rue poor start

A double bogey on the first came back to haunt Australian Steve Elkington as he stormed home to finish fifth in the Buick Open behind American Brian Bateman. It was an otherwise flawless round by Elkington, who roared into contention with six birdies on the next 13 holes, however he could not catch Bateman, who posted his maiden victory on the US PGA Tour in dramatic fashion. Gavin Coles was the next best-placed Australian, tied for 10th on 12-under after carding a two-under-par 70 in the final round, ahead of Stephen Leaney, who was in 20th place on 10-under. Mark Hensby (72) finished 34th on eight-under, Paul Sheehan (72) and Robert Allenby (74) were tied for 64th while Michael Sim (73) was 73rd. Bateman emerged from a four-way tie for the lead when he rolled a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to win his first tour title in 159 career starts. “When the putt went in I was thrilled to death,” he said. “It seemed like it took forever to get to the hole but it went right in the middle. I just went blank. I just threw my hands up and said, &aposMan, I finally did it&apos.” Bateman carded a final-round 69 to finish on 15-under-par, one shot ahead of Jason Gore, Justin Leonard and Woody Austin, who appeared braced for a playoff until the 34-year-old&aposs winning putt. “It&aposs a life-changing week,” Bateman said. “It&aposs a life-changing putt but like I told someone outside, my wife and I are pretty simple people and I doubt this is going to change us much.” His previous best finishes on tour were a pair of ties for third place and the triumph is even more surprising given Bateman has been dreadful this year, missing the cut in four of eight tournaments. His best finish was a tie for 31st at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February. “I&aposm still trying to figure out what I did,” Bateman said. “I felt good all week. I felt like I was giving myself a lot of chances at birdies. I was patient just about every day and it just seemed to build.” Gore and Leonard each signed for a five-under-par 67 at Warwick Hills Golf Club. Austin carded a three-under-par 69 to grab a share of the clubhouse lead. “I thought I had to shoot seven or eight under today to have a shot,” Gore said. “It was blustery today. We had some different wind. The greens got really hard and it made it very difficult because by late in the day, there are heel prints. “It was a great tournament. You had 10 guys who could win at any point. It was about who stepped up and pulled the trophy away and Brian did it. Take your hats off to him.” Leonard carded seven birdies and two bogeys in posting his best finish of the year. The 1997 Open champion had missed the cut in nine of 16 events this year, including his first six. “It feels very good. It&aposs amazing, because it&aposs been so long, but it&aposs still a very familiar feeling,” Leonard said. “I feel fortunate that it is, that I don&apost have to get in there a few times to really get comfortable. I was nervous today but somewhat comfortable and I think I was able to use some of that energy to my advantage.” Tom Pernice entered the day with a one-shot lead but stumbled to a three-over 75 to finish four shots back on 11-under.