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Herron Wins Bay In Sudden Death


For three days, all anyone wanted to know about Tim Herron was what he had for lunch and why they called him Lumpy. On Sunday, Herron showed his game was worth talking about, too.

[Herron]
Herron felt comfortable all week with his new driver. (AP)

Herron made clutch par putts down the stretch and won the Bay Hill Invitational with a birdie on the second playoff hole against Tom Lehman, giving the 29-year-old from Minnesota his third victory in four years on the PGA Tour.

Herron, who closed with an even-par 72 for 274, earned $450,000. It was the second time in which he had at least a share of the lead for all four rounds. He went wire-to-wire in the Honda Classic as a rookie in 1996.

After he and Lehman made pars on the first playoff hole at No. 18, Herron played the 511-yard 16th hole to perfection -- a booming drive down the fairway and a bold approach over the water to about 10 feet.

Lehman, playing only his second stroke-play event since a three-month layoff for shoulder surgery, hit into the bunker for the second time in less than an hour. He blasted through the fairway into the rough, hit over the green and made a 15-foot par putt from the fringe even before Herron lined up his eagle putt.

"I can't hang my head. I feel like I played well," Lehman said. "It feels good to be nervous again. Last week at Honda, I finished last. This was a lot more fun."

Davis Love III can blame his putter for finishing one stroke out of the playoff at 275. One day after he made eight birdie putts, Love came up empty in his bid to win Arnold Palmer's tournament for the first time after three good chances.

He missed 4-foot birdie putts on three of the first four holes, missed an 8-footer on No. 16 and then missed a 10-foot par putt on No. 17 that knocked him out of a share of the lead. Love had a 30-foot birdie on the last hole that slid by on the right.

"I definitely lost some confidence with my putter," Love said. "I didn't get a lot of putts on line."

Robert Damron, who grew up at Bay Hill, holed a 35-foot birdie putt on the last hole for a 67 that left him alone in fourth at 276. He earned $120,000 the largest paycheck of his career.

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Interviews:
  • Tim Herron
  • Tom Lehman
  • Davis Love III

    RealAudio
    Tim Herron:
  • His game late last year
  • Having an opportunity to win
  • No one else was better than 8-under 280 on a blustery day that made Bay Hill play 2.5 strokes higher than the day before.

    That made it tough for anyone to make a run, and equally difficult for either Lehman, Herron or Love to build a lead bigger than one stroke. Left behind was a thrilling finish that brought a smile to Palmer's face as he watched from the 18th green.

    Lehman, who started the day one stroke behind, caught Love and Herron with a birdie on No. 4 and took the lead with a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 8. While Lehman says his shoulder is about 80 percent, he was more concerned about the rust.

    He didn't show any Sunday. Despite having not even been in contention for a full year, Lehman looked like the grinder who was the PGA Tour player of the year in 1996 when he won the British Open and the Tour Championship.

    He made eight straight pars down the stretch, his only blip a bogey from the bunker on No. 17 that dropped him back into a share of the lead at 14-under.

    That's where Love suffered his only bogey, not surprising since it was the toughest hole at Bay Hill. But it dropped him out of the lead, and while he made birdie at No. 18 in each of the first three rounds, he couldn't make the one he needed the most.

    Herron was anything but steady, but he had the one club working that Love didn't -- his putter. Perhaps the biggest putt of the day came on the fourth hole when Herron sliced his drive out of bounds. He made a 12-footer to save bogey and keep a share of the lead, then made knee-knocking par putts in the 5-foot range five times to give himself a chance.

    The only ones he missed proved to be pivotal -- a 6-foot birdie putt at No. 16 that would have given him the lead, and another 6-footer straight down the slope on the 72nd hole for the victory.

    That was all forgotten when he tapped in for birdie on the second hole for the title.

    Divots:

    • David Frost made eagles on the par-5 sixth and 16th holes, only the fifth time in Bay Hill history that a player has made two eagles in one round. The last player to do that was Mark MNulty in the first round of 1995.
    • For the first time in 14 regular PGA Tour events, dating to The Players Championship last year, Tiger Woods failed to break par in any of his four rounds. He had a 72 on Sunday.
    • The four Europeans in the field Sunday -- Colin Montgomerie , Ian Woosnam, Lee Westwood and Bernhard Langer -- all shot 79.
    • Frank Lickliter was the only player to make birdie at No. 17 on Sunday.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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