Kirk Triplett wins Hoag Classic at Newport Beach with eagle in playoff
Kirk Triplett had to make two similar shots Sunday to win the Hoag Classic at Newport Beach Country Club.
Triplett spun in a birdie on the par-five 18th hole in regulation to force a two-man playoff with Woody Austin, both finishing at 10 under par. He did the same on the second playoff hole, also No. 18, making a 12-foot eagle putt that broke from left to right to secure the win.
“Woody had a very makeable birdie putt to extend it, so I wasn’t just trying to make a four and make him make his,” Triplett said. “I was trying to make that putt to end the tournament. And it was the exact same putt I had the first time through.”
It’s the seventh PGA Tour Champions win for Triplett, who came from four shots back on the final day to secure the $270,000 first-place check after starting at seven under. He is second to Bernhard Langer on the Charles Schwab Cup money list after five events.
Jeff Maggert and Scott McCarron tied for third at nine under, while Paul Goydos, Steve Flesch and second-round leader Fran Quinn tied for fifth at eight under.
McCarron had an eagle putt on No. 18 that would have won the tournament. Instead, he three-putted for par as he missed joining Triplett and Austin in the playoff.
Triplett forced the sixth playoff in tournament history with an up-and-down birdie on the final hole. After his second shot landed in the rough in front of the green, next to a sand trap, he hit his third to within about 12 feet.
Austin’s third shot, from a similar spot but a bit closer to the green, went well past the hole. “Wow,” he mouthed after the shot.
“I tried to get mine to the left and next thing you know, it was running downhill going up there instead of running to the right,” Austin said. “It ran downhill past the hole, so that was a very tricky pin. I struggle on poa annua [grass], so I’m really happy with the finish, but I struggle on poa annua. I can’t figure poa annua out, how to chip, putt, nothing.”
Triplett made his birdie putt, spinning it in from left to right to join Austin at 10 under. Austin couldn’t do the same, as his putt rolled right of the hole.
Austin led for much of the latter half of the final round but three-putted on No. 15, a par five, to miss a chance to extend his lead.
“[Triplett] hit three quality shots there to win, but I gave him a chance to win,” Austin said. “He should have never even had a chance. That’s how it goes. I didn’t get the job done when I was supposed to.”
Maggert shot a tournament-best 63 on Saturday and his 65 on Sunday also tied for best round of the day. But he came up a bit short after a 76 on Friday, which included a five-putt triple-bogey on No. 18.
Quinn, meanwhile, began the day at 11 under and with a three-shot lead. He needed only to shoot even par Sunday to secure his first Champions victory, but he had just one birdie and fired a 74.
“I didn’t miss a shot for two days and played just flawless golf,” Quinn said. “Today I looked like, you know, about an 8-handicap, or I felt like it.”
The Champions tour takes a three-week break and resumes with the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Mississippi from March 29 to 31.
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