Petrovic earns first tour win on first playoff hole
AVONDALE, La. -- Draped in purple and gold Mardi Gras beads and clutching his silver trophy, Tim Petrovic was still in shock.
Twelve years after he went broke, gave up golf and went to work making and delivering pizzas, he had his first PGA Tour victory.
Petrovic completed the long journey by holing a 4-foot par putt to beat rookie James Driscoll on the first hole of a playoff in the Zurich Classic.
"That last putt seemed to take about 12 minutes to fall in," Petrovic said. "I saw every dimple rolling over, and over, and over and then it went in."
The 38-year-old Petrovic set up the breakthrough victory with a 19-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation, then finished off Driscoll with a routine par on the par-5 closing hole on the year-old TPC of Louisiana.
"I was pretty calm over it," Petrovic said. "We looked at it real quick, but I didn't want to walk around it for about 5 minutes. I just wanted to get in there and hit it."
Petrovic, the former pizza and newspaper deliverer whose 2002 entry on the PGA Tour came 14 years after he turned pro, shot a 4-under 68 to match Driscoll at 13-under 275.
Driscoll, playing in the final group with Masters runner-up Chris DiMarco, had a 70, missing a 4-foot birdie try for the victory on No. 18.
"I can gain some confidence out of today for sure," he said. "It's kind of mixed emotions, because I know I can play. But to not finish it off just kills."
Back in 1993 the odds of Petrovic winning a PGA Tour title looked slim.
"I think I played 11 or 12 events and ran out of money on the Nike Tour," Petrovic said. "I had a sponsor pull out on me, I had no money, I ended up just going to work. I worked for the YMCA and then I went to work making pizzas for about five years. That's washing floors and washing dishes, that's not just making pizzas."
The former University of Hartford player was out of tour golf until 1998 when the father of some friends helped him get back.
DiMarco, the third-round leader, bogeyed No. 18 to finish a stroke back along with Lucas Glover. DiMarco, playing his first event since losing to Tiger Woods in a playoff at Augusta National, shot a 72. Glover had a 69.
DiMarco held the lead or part of it for most of the day.
DiMarco hole a 24-foot putt on the first hole for par and birdied Nos. 2, 5, 8 to make the turn at 15 under, two strokes ahead of Petrovic.
But DiMarco's troubles began on No. 10. He hit his second shot in a bunker 79 feet from the hole. Then his 15-foot putt rolled past the cup for a bogey that dropped him into a tie with Petrovic, playing one hole ahead of him.
DiMarco shot a 39 on the back nine, hitting five bunkers. His putt for par on 18, which would have put him in the playoff, rolled around the lip of the cup for a bogey, his third on the back nine.
"That first putt I hit for birdie was the best one I hit all day," DiMarco said. "I can't believe it didn't go in."
While DiMarco struggled, Petrovic rebounded from bogeys on No. 15 and 17 with his long birdie putt on No. 18.
"When I missed my putt on 17 I heard somebody in the gallery say, 'Well, there's one more down. Two to go,' " Petrovic said. "That kind of got me a little fired up and I said, 'Well, we've still got one hole left."'
DiMarco has six runner-up finishes since winning the 2002 Phoenix Open for his third PGA Tour victory. He lost playoffs in the last two majors to the top player in the world -- the 2004 PGA Championship to Vijay Singh and the Masters to Woods.
Petrovic said he'd have lots of time to savor his victory. He just bought an RV to travel in and had a 12-hour drive to Charlotte for the Wachovia Championship. ... Driscoll lost in the final of the U.S. Amateur and in a playoff last year on the Nationwide Tour. ... Singh, the 2004 winner at English Turn, closed with a 72 to tie for 21st at 5-under 283.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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