Rookie Palmer Picks Up First Win

From Associated Press

The highlight of Ryan Palmer’s rookie season on the PGA Tour came seven months ago at Bay Hill in Orlando, Fla., when he met Arnold Palmer.

That changed Sunday in the Funai Classic at Disney in nearby Lake Buena Vista, where the 28-year-old Texan made five birdies in his first six holes to get into contention, then pulled away with four birdies in a row down the stretch for a 10-under-par 62 and a three-shot victory over Vijay Singh and Briny Baird.

“To beat the No. 1 player in the world ... who was pretty much unstoppable the last few weeks was just awesome,” Ryan Palmer said of Singh.


Palmer got into the record books along the way.

His 62 tied the lowest closing round by a winner at Disney. He also became the fifth tour rookie to win this year, the most since the tour began keeping track in 1970.

Not many paid attention to Palmer -- no relation to Arnold -- when he started the last round five shots out of the lead.

No one could stop him at the end, not even Singh.

Along with two tap-in birdies set up by flawless wedges, Palmer chipped in from 40 feet on No. 15 and made a 45-foot birdie on No. 17 that would have gone about 12 feet past the hole had it not caught the back of the cup.

Palmer finished at 22-under 266, then had to wait for an hour to see whether anyone could catch him. He earned $756,000.

Singh, trying to win his fourth consecutive event, was as relentless as ever. He made three consecutive birdies to get within two shots of the lead with four holes to play, but his aggressive play cost him.

The 41-year-old Fijian hit a driver on No. 16 and landed in a fairway bunker, a tough spot to get the ball close. His approach was 50 feet beyond the pin, and he three-putted for bogey to end his chances.


Singh closed with a 67 to earn $369,600 and has more than $9.8 million. He needs to earn $174,834 in the last two weeks to become the first golfer to win $10 million in a season.

Baird, who shared the lead with Tom Lehman before the last round, made a 15-foot birdie on the par-five 14th to get within two shots of Palmer.

Baird’s hopes also ended on No. 16, when he missed the fairway to the right, went just off the back of the green and three-putted for bogey from 90 feet. He finished with a 70.

Lehman had at least a share of the 54-hole lead for the third consecutive week. He shot a 72 and tied for sixth.


Mark McNulty rallied from five strokes down in the last round, making five birdies in the last eight holes to beat Tom Kite by one stroke in the Champions Tour’s season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Sonoma, Calif.

McNulty shot a six-under 66 to finish at 11-under 277, matching the round’s best effort.

Hale Irwin shot a three-over 75 to finish seventh at 284, but won his second Schwab Cup, awarded to the points leader in a season-long competition of 30 tournaments, and a $1-million annuity.


Kite, who finished third in the Schwab Cup standings behind Irwin and Craig Stadler, could have won it by winning the tournament.

Allen Doyle shot a three-under 69 to finish third, three strokes behind McNulty. Peter Jacobsen rallied with a final-round 67 to finish fourth, with David Eger (69) and Jose Maria Canizares (75) one stroke behind in fifth at 283.