Date: February 25, 2007
Author: Sportal

Thompson takes title

By Sportal American Nicholas Thompson has claimed the first victory of his professional career, the 24-year-old winning the HSBC NZ PGA Championship in a dramatic sudden-death play-off against Canadian David Morland IV at Clearwater. Just when it looked as if Morland would be triumphant, Thompson stepped up to birdie 17 and then hit his approach at 18 to within eight feet, leading to another birdie and a finishing total of eight-under – forcing a play-off down the 18th hole. “When I walked onto 16 I knew seven-under was leading and I was sitting at six. I figured it was going to take eight-under to win so I thought that I would have to finish birdie, birdie to make it,” said Thompson. Half an hour earlier Morland had birdied the par-four 17th to move into the outright lead for the first time on the 71st hole. A regulation par on the par-four 18th gave him a four-under 68 for the day and minus eight overall. The Christchurch galleries had been treated to some superb golf all day and the climax provided a fitting conclusion to a hugely competitive event. Lee Williamson, 27, was not originally due to play this week but when Scott Gump withdrew after the Jacob&aposs Creek Open in Adelaide Williamson headed Down Under as his replacement. His clubs followed him but they didn&apost arrive until Tuesday morning. The American rookie took full advantage with a three-under par 69 for a share of third place at seven-under, along with his countryman Michael Letzig, who made six birdies and an eagle in a superb seven-under 65. One back in outright fifth place at six-under was Australian James Nitties, who had a one-under 71, while his compatriot Jason Day shot 69 to finish five-under with a share of sixth. Mark Brown was also at minus five, his 71 giving him leading Kiwi honours, while Ryan Howison had been thereabouts all week but bogeyed 16 and 17 to finish with a 73, and he was joined by fellow American Sal Spallone (71). Australian Chris Downes had eight birdies in a flawless 64 – the low round of the day – which moved him from four-over to four-under, level with fellow Aussies Marc Leishman (69) and Peter Fowler (70). New Zealander Tim Wilkinson was looking good for four-under until he bogeyed the 17th and double-bogeyed 18 to finish even for the day and two-under for the Championship. David Smail had a 71 to finish at minus one overall, Phil Tataurangi shot 73 to finish at even-par, Steve Alker went two-under to finish at five-over with Grant Moorhead, and Mahal Pearce and Doug Holloway finished at eight-over.