Sport : Golf

DUFNER SEES OFF ELS FOR VICTORY

30th April 2012, 06:19am

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Dufner: Finally secured his first PGA Tour title

Dufner: Finally secured his first PGA Tour title

Jason Dufner clinched his first PGA Tour win by beating Ernie Els in a play-off for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.

The pair were locked together after 72 holes after the veteran South African had made up a three-shot deficit on the overnight leader with a round of 67.

But Dufner, who gets married next weekend, looked nervy down the stretch in a closing 70 and went into the play-off as the underdog.

Both missed birdie puts at the first extra hole - first Dufner from seven feet and then Els from closer in - and they went back down the par-five 18th for a third time in the day.

This time Dufner rolled his long putt up to the holeside with Els just off the green in three after finding sand off the tee.

The South African was unable to threaten the hole with his birdie try leaving the American to tap in for his first victory after three runner-up finishes.

The 35-year-old, who marries fiancee Amanda Boyd next month, said afterwards: "It was a tough day, I'd already put up a good number.

"It's been tough trying to get this first win, so this is a little bit of a monkey off my back."

The tournament developed into a duel between the pair in regulation play, Dufner moving to 19-under with a birdie at the 10th before Els birdied the 11th.

Neither was able to advance their score - Els making excellent par saves at the 12th and 14th while Dufner also did well to hole out for par at 14 before rattling in a monster putt two holes later after driving into water.

But neither player was able to get up-and-down at the 18th for the win, Dufner knowing he needed a birdie when missing a 10-footer to the right.

Luke Donald finished third to regain the world number one ranking, despite never being able to land a blow after a sluggish start that saw him pick up a solitary birdie through eight holes.

But the Briton plugged away and birdies at nine, 11 - where he chipped in from a difficult position - and 13 saw him move up the leaderboard before a routine two-putt at the closing hole took him into sole possession of third place with a 67.

Donald needed to finish in the top seven to re-take top spot from Rory McIlroy, who was not in action this week.

Justin Rose carded a second successive 68 to claim a joint 10th finish on 13 under par, while Greg Owen was four shots back after finishing with a 69.

Scotland's Russell Knox, in contention after a second round 64, finished alongside Owen on nine under after a final round 72, England's Brian Davis was one back after a 70, with Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell ending on five under after a 72.

Collated final-round scores (USA unless stated, par 72):

269 Jason Dufner 67 65 67 70, Ernie Els (Rsa) 66 68 68 67 (Dufner won at 2nd play-off hole)

271 Luke Donald (Eng) 73 65 66 67

272 Ryan Palmer 72 67 64 69, Graham Delaet (Can) 68 67 66 71

273 Steve Stricker 66 68 69 70

274 John Rollins 67 66 69 72, Ken Duke 65 68 71 70, Cameron Tringale 65 70 68 71

275 Justin Rose (Eng) 72 67 68 68, David Mathis 72 69 69 65, Rickie Fowler 71 65 69 70

276 J.B. Holmes 71 67 68 70, Ben Curtis 67 70 68 71, Scott Piercy 72 66 69 69, Webb Simpson 68 72 67 69, Jonas Blixt (Swe) 68 70 71 67

277 Brendon De Jonge 73 69 69 66, Jeff Overton 72 67 73 65, Jimmy Walker 70 71 68 68, Bubba Watson 71 71 65 70, Camilo Villegas (Col) 69 66 74 68, Alex Cejka (Ger) 70 69 67 71

278 George McNeill 70 70 67 71, Chris Stroud 66 71 72 69, Bobby Gates 71 65 74 68, Colt Knost 70 70 72 66, David Hearn (Can) 68 73 68 69, Patrick Reed 71 70 70 67

279 Kris Blanks 69 68 72 70, Erik Compton 69 68 72 70, Greg Chalmers (Aus) 70 64 72 73, Greg Owen (Eng) 70 69 71 69, William McGirt 70 69 70 70, Fred Funk 72 67 72 68, Mark Anderson 69 70 72 68, Daniel Summerhays 68 70 68 73, Russell Knox (Sco) 69 64 74 72

280 Brian Davis (Eng) 71 67 72 70, Tim Herron 69 68 71 72, John Senden (Aus) 72 70 69 69, Miguel Angel Carballo (Arg) 69 70 73 68, K J Choi (Kor) 71 68 73 68, Charles Howell III 71 66 72 71

281 Daniel Chopra (Swe) 66 70 72 73, Kyle Reifers 69 68 70 74, David Toms 72 68 70 71, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 76 66 71 68, James Driscoll 73 65 70 73, Stuart Appleby (Aus) 69 69 70 73, Matthew Jones (Aus) 72 70 68 71

282 Peter Hanson (Swe) 74 68 70 70, J J Henry 69 72 70 71, John Merrick 72 70 69 71, Will Claxton 72 69 70 71, Danny Lee (Nzl) 72 68 74 68

283 Jason Kokrak 70 70 69 74, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 69 73 69 72, Vaughn Taylor 69 71 73 70, Rocco Mediate 71 65 73 74, Briny Baird 69 71 74 69

284 Hank Kuehne 71 70 70 73, Chris Di Marco 71 70 70 73, Troy Kelly 69 72 73 70, Tommy Biershenk 74 67 71 72

285 Seung-yul Noh (Kor) 70 69 71 75, Garth Mulroy (Rsa) 70 72 72 71, Lucas Glover 70 72 71 72, Brian Gay 70 70 74 71, David Duval 72 69 70 74

288 Kevin Streelman 69 73 72 74

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