Lee Westwood became the second Englishman in a week to win on golf’s PGA Tour when he drained a five-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole at the St. Jude Classic, the last event before the U.S. Open.
Westwood, playing in the tournament for the first time, beat Robert Karlsson of Sweden to collect his second win on the world’s richest golf tour. Westwood’s previous victory came a week before the 1998 Masters Tournament at the Freeport- McDermott Classic in New Orleans.
“It’s definitely nice to win again,” Westwood said at a news conference. “I’ve been in contention a lot, especially this year, and I suppose I got a break today with other people’s misfortune, but made the most of it and took a chance.”
The victory at the TPC Southwind in Memphis is worth $1.01 million to the 37-year-old Englishman, the first player from Europe to win at Memphis, a stop on the PGA Tour since 1958. Westwood’s win follows countryman Justin Rose’s breakthrough victory at the Memorial Tournament last week.
Westwood has climbed to No. 3 in the world after four other top-10 finishes in the U.S. this year. The 37-year-old was second at the Masters and tied for fourth at the Players Championship. He also had two runner-up performances and a third-place finish on the European Tour.
Westwood, a 20-time winner on the European Tour, and Karlsson went into the three-way playoff after Robert Garrigus made a triple bogey on the last hole of regulation play. A double bogey would have been sufficient to get the 32-year-old from Scottsdale, Arizona, his first tour victory.
Garrigus struck his tee shot at the 18th into a lake and left his next shot among trees. He played out over the lake and two-putted for a seven. He was eliminated at the first extra hole when he made bogey after leaving his tee shot behind a tree.
“It’s really tough,” Garrigus told CBS correspondent David Feherty in a televised interview. “I’m glad I even got into the playoff.”
Westwood, Karlsson and Garrigus finished the tournament with four-round totals of 10-under-par 270. Westwood had a 2- under-par 68 on the final day, Karlsson had a 69 and Garrigus scored 71.
The 41-year-old Karlsson, who finished 2008 as the European Tour’s top money winner, has dropped to No. 34 in the Official World Golf Rankings after being sidelined for five months last year with a condition that left him with blurred vision. He’s won 10 times on the European Tour, the most by a Swedish player.
Before flying to Tennessee, Westwood went to California to play Pebble Beach, the venue for this week’s U.S. Open. The year’s second major championship is scheduled to begin June 17.
“Because I’ve been to Pebble Beach and done most of my preparation, I can take it easy with that for the next three days and build up my fitness and stamina for when the tournaments kicks off,” Westwood said. “I can take it pretty easy the next few days.”