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Schwartzel completes comeback in playoff

Haas chokes on extra hole while amateur finishes in fourth place

Charl Schwartzel used two big birdies to close with a 4-under 67 and made up a five-shot deficit. All he needed was a par on the first hole of a playoff Sunday at Innisbrook to beat Bill Haas and win the Valspar Championship.

Schwartzel’s two-putt par on the 18th hole in a playoff gave him his third victory worldwide in his last six starts, dating back to December.

Haas, who never trailed over the final 27 holes of regulation, hit his tee shot into the trees in the playoff, came up short into a bunker and blasted long out of the soft sand to 20 feet. He missed the par putt. Schwartzel tapped in for his first victory in America since the 2011 Masters.

The loudest cheers belonged to Lee McCoy, a senior at the University of Georgia who grew up next to Innisbrook and made good on his first sponsor’s exemption. Playing alongside Jordan Spieth, McCoy shot 69 to finish alone in fourth. It was the best finish by an amateur in a PGA TOUR-sanctioned event since 17-year-old Justin Rose tied for fourth at the British Open in 1998 at Royal Birkdale.

McCoy would have earned $292,800 had he been a pro.

“It’s surreal to say the least,” McCoy said.

Schwartzel was the only player who put any sustained pressure on Haas, and he made his move with a 65-foot birdie putt across the green on the par-3 13th hole. He got up-and-down from a tough lie in the bunker for birdie on the 14th, made a tough par save from the edge of a bunker on the 16th and rolled in a 25-foot putt on the 17th.

He posted at 7-under 277.

Haas had a two-shot lead with three holes to play and had made tough par saves to stay in front. It finally caught up with him when he made bogey from the bunker on the 16th hole, and he closed with two pars for a 72.

Haas had a two-shot lead with three holes to play until he made bogey from the bunker on the 16th hole and narrowly missed a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe on the 18th. He closed with a 72.

In the playoff, Haas went from the trees to the bunker and failed to save par on the 18th hole from 20 feet. Schwartzel two-putted for his third victory worldwide in his last six events.

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