- The Washington Times - Monday, January 26, 2009

From combined dispatches

LA QUINTA, Calif. | Pat Perez won the Bob Hope Classic for his first PGA Tour title, taking advantage of Steve Stricker’s collapse and holding off John Merrick by three strokes Sunday in the wind-swept final round.

Perez finished at 33-under 327. Merrick, who began the day eight shots behind Stricker but moved in front briefly on the back nine, shot a 67.

Stricker, 33 under at the start of play after rounds of 61 and 62, had a 77 to tie for third with Mike Weir (67) at 28 under. Stricker had a triple bogey on No. 7 and a quadruple bogey on No. 10, hitting into the water on both holes.

The 32-year-old Perez, playing in the final group, locked up the victory by knocking his approach shot from 200 yards on No. 18 to three feet to set up an eagle. Merrick, winless on the tour, already had finished his round with a par on 18.

Perez beamed and doffed his cap after the ball rolled onto the green and the fans in the grandstands erupted in cheers. He stopped grinning only briefly, while he was bending over his final putt.

“I just tried to stay pretty even-keeled,” Perez said. “I figured if I could just play solid and hit some good shots and kind of stay calm and think about what I’m doing out there, I was going to be fine.”

Merrick’s second-place finish was the highest for the 26-year-old former UCLA star, who is beginning his third full season on the tour.

Perez, who led the first three days of the 90-hole event before falling three shots off Stricker’s pace, had said the ideal conditions made the early rounds “like playing in a dome.”

That changed for the closing round over the Palmer Course at PGA West.

Club selection, figuring distance and direction, all became a challenge. The wind would quiet one moment, then gust and swirl the next. Flagsticks on the greens rocked back and forth with the flags flapping, go still, then just as suddenly begin shuddering again.

Stricker, at No. 16 the highest ranked player in the field, had his hopes of winning a fifth tour title blown away in the wind.

Langer captures opener

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii | Bernhard Langer won the Champions Tour’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory over Andy Bean.

Langer, the 2008 player and rookie of the year, had an 18-under 198 total to get his sophomore campaign off to a strong start and earn his fifth title on the 50-and-over circuit.

Quiros wins Qatar

DOHA, Qatar | Alvaro Quiros won the Qatar Masters, making five birdies on the back nine to shoot a 3-under 69 and beat Louis Oosthuizen and Henrik Stenson by three strokes.

The 26-year-old Spaniard finish at 19-under 269 at the Doha Golf Course after a round that included seven birdies and four bogeys.

“Winning is not easy,” Quiros said. “It is easy for guys like Sergio Garcia and others who win so often.”

Matthew cruises

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil | Catriona Matthew, the 39-year-old Scot five months pregnant with her second child, won the inaugural HSBC LPGA Brazil Cup by five shots over Kristy McPherson of the United States.

Matthew had a 3-under 69 on the second day of the 36-hole exhibition tournament to finish at 6-under 138 at the Itanhanga Golf Club. McPherson was 1 under after shooting a 72.

“When you play well you don’t feel tired,” Matthew said. “Maybe tomorrow I will feel it a bit.”


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