Matteson holds off challenge from Lovemark, Fowler in playoff

SCOTTSDALE:American Troy Matteson birdied the second playoff hole on Sunday to win the $5 million US PGA Open, holding off young US stars Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark for the title.

Matteson, whose only prior PGA crown came at the same event in 2006, made bogeys on the par-4 17th and 18th holes in regulation to open the door for Fowler, a rookie in his second PGA event, and fast-closing amateur Lovemark. But after all three opened the playoff with pars, Matteson put his approach at the second extra hole — the 17th — two feet from the cup and sank the birdie to finally capture the title.

Matteson fired back-to-back 61s, the lowest 36 holes in a row in US PGA history, on Friday and Saturday to begin Sunday with a three-stroke lead, then squandered it before outlasting two PGA hopefuls to secure 2010 playing rights. As the PGA campaign winds down, star players are taking time off as lesser names fight to secure 2010 playing rights by finishing in the top 125 money winners of this year.

Fowler, seventh last week in his PGA debut, was trying to

become, at 20, the youngest

US PGA Tour winner since

Tiger Woods won his first event at age 20 in Las Vegas in 1996. Fowler is trying to accomplish what Woods did by playing

his way onto the tour through money earned while playing only on sponsor exemptions, something that has not been done in four years.

A victory for Fowler or

Lovemark, 21, would have automatically brought PGA membership. But each could take

some pride at how they fared. Fowler made a bogey at 18

and Matteson’s bogeys on his 71st and 72nd holes allowed hope for Lovemark, who birdied five of his last eight holes, including the 18th, to reach the playoff.

All three parred the first playoff hole, the par-4 18th, with Matteson and Fowler two-putting from 43 feet and Lovemark surviving a splashdown with an amazing bit of

luck. Lovemark found a water hazard with his approach from the fairway but the wet ball bounced out of the shallow water and onto a slope to keep his dream alive. He followed the astonishing rescue by chipping to three feet and making par.

The trio moved to the par-4 17th and Matteson seized command by putting his approach two feet from the cup. Lovemark put his second shot 30 feet left and uphill from the cup while Fowler found the left rough. Fowler and Lovemark each made pars before Matteson tapped-in to take the title.

South Africa’s Tim Clark and American Bill Lunde shared fourth on 264, one stroke ahead of American Bryce Molder and Canada’s Mike Weir, who birdied six of the last eight holes in a bogey-free final round of 61.