SAN DIEGO – Scott Stallings was in the 18th fairway at Torrey Pines, 222 yards from the front of the green, needing a birdie to give himself a shot at outright victory Sunday in the Farmers Insurance Open. That is when his caddie told him, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”
Above all, he had experience.
One year and one week earlier, Stallings was in a similar situation at the Humana Challenge. He hit a 6-iron from 220 yards, forgetting to account for a hanging lie until the ball sailed left and bounded into the water, the final mistake on a day he blew a five-shot lead.
He didn’t make the same mistake twice.
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Stallings hammered a 4-iron that narrowly cleared the water and set up two putts from 40 feet for a birdie. It gave him a 4-under-par 68 and a one-shot lead that turned into a victory when no one could catch him.
“I don’t think one would happen without the other,” Stallings said. “I actually thought about 18 at Humana the whole time on 18 today. Not that I was like, ‘Oh, don’t hit it in the water.’ But it was, ‘Just make sure you pay attention to everything that’s going on.’ ”
His final birdie capped a wild day at Torrey Pines, one that didn’t include Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson for the first time in two decades. Nine players had a share of the lead at one point. Eight players had a reasonable chance in the final hour.
Stallings, 28, emerged the winner with one big shot, and now he is headed back to the Masters. He finished with a 9-under 279 total and earned $1.098 million for his third PGA Tour victory in 88 starts.
K.J. Choi had the best score of the week on the South Course with a 66 and was among five players who tied for second at 8 under. The others were Graham DeLaet (68), Jason Day (68), Pat Perez (70) and Marc Leishman (71).
Michael Putnam (70), who is from University Place, tied for 37th at 1 under and former Washington Huskies player Chris Williams (76) tied for 59th place at 3 over.
Third-round leader Gary Woodland (74) appeared to have the best chance to catch Stallings.
Woodland was one shot behind when he used a fairway-metal club on the No. 17 tee and hooked the ball into a canyon. He felt he had to make his 45-foot par putt to have any chance to win, and three-putted for a double bogey.
“This will be hard to swallow,” said Woodland, who tied for 10th. “I felt like I kind of gave one away today.”
Korda wins LPGA Tour opener
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Jessica Korda won the season-opening Bahamas LPGA Classic for her second Tour title, holing a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole to beat fellow American Stacy Lewis by a stroke.
The 20-year-old Korda closed with a 7-under 66 for a 19-under 273 total on Atlantis Resort’s Ocean Club course. She earned $195,000.
Lewis (66) parred the final four holes.
Korda tied Lewis for the lead with a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th, then got up and down for birdie on the par-5 18th. Korda’s 4-iron approach on No. 18 scampered through the green to the fringe just short of the grandstand. With a tournament official and a TV announcer holding up cords that would have interfered with her stroke, she putted under the wires to set up the winning birdie.
“It was like jump rope,” Korda said.
She passed up a free drop.
“It wasn’t a hard decision at all,” Korda said. “I felt I had a good lie there. It looked too difficult on either side, so I just stayed right where I was. I remember when I had the pleasure of playing with Jack Nicklaus, he told me a bad putt is always better than a bad chip.”
She admitted she was nervous on the winning putt.
“Incredible!” Korda said. “I could barely put the golf ball down and line up.”