Scotland’s Martin Laird stumbled into a three-way play-off but held his nerve to win his first tournament in seven years at the PGA Tour’s Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Sunday.
The 37-year-old looked to have averted disaster with a scrambling par three on the 17th, which took him over a cart path and under trees before he drained an 18-foot putt to preserve a one-stroke lead over Americans Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook.
But disaster struck again immediately for Laird with a bogey five on the 72nd hole, when he left his approach shot 28 feet from the hole and two-putted, giving him a closing three-under 68 to tie at 23-under with Wolff and Cook, who each shot 66.
Laird then found himself back at the 17th for the second play-off hole, but this time he played it with more authority, sinking a birdie putt from just outside 20 feet to take the tournament.
“It’s been a while since my last one, and you have some doubts at times whether you’re going to get another one,” Laird said afterwards.
“I just played so well all week. This week, tee to green, was probably the best I’ve ever played. I just felt in control really all week, and to see that putt go in, it was pretty special.”
Laird was among five joint leaders at the halfway point, and shared a two-stroke lead with American Patrick Cantlay heading into Sunday.
The Scotsman – seeking a second win among a trio of three-way play-offs in Las Vegas through 11 years – began strongly with five straight pars followed by birdies at the par four sixth and seventh holes.
He dropped a shot on the short eighth, then chipped in from a bunker to eagle the par-five ninth for the third straight day to take a three-stroke lead.
With Wolff and Cook finishing strongly, Laird recovered from a bogey five at the 10th with birdies at the long 13th and the par four 15th, before his drama-packed finale, which led to a handsome payday of 1.2 million dollars (£920,000).
England’s Tom Lewis struggled with a last-day 73 to finish tied for 43rd at 12-under, compatriot Luke Donald carded 75 to finish last of the weekend’s players while Cantlay fell out of contention with a closing 73.