Brian Stuard claimed a maiden PGA Tour victory and an invite to the US Masters 2017 event at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Monday. A storm-ravaged weekend forced a late finish, and Stuard eventually won out on the second hole of a three-way playoff.
Poor weather conditions meant the tournament was reduced to just 54 holes, and Stuard, Jamie Lovemark and Byeong-Hun An could not be separated on 15-under-par. An set the clubhouse target with a superb closing 65, while Lovemark missed two late chances to secure his own maiden title as he finished with a 68.
The three leaders then headed to the 18th tee for the playoff, and it was An who buckled under the pressure first after an errant tee shot, poor approach play and a missed par putt. His bogey meant he was eliminated at the first hole, while Stuard and Lovemark both advanced with solid pars.
With the threat of further bad weather on the horizon, both players dashed back to the 18th tee. Lovemark split the fairway with a perfect drive but pulled his iron shot to the left of the green. Stuard found trouble and laid up, but he struck a decisive blow with a sublime wedge, which landed just three feet from the flag.
Lovemark had to produce a similarly great shot to have a chance of advancing, but he failed to find the green, and his short birdie chip trundled past the hole as he settled for a par. It meant Stuard only had to tap in a short putt for his win, and he made no mistake as he closed out a first PGA career victory.
World number one Jason Day finished in a tie for fifth on 13-under-par after a closing 66, a score that was matched by last week’s PGA champion Charley Hoffman, who ended the event at ten-under-par.