Pearce closes with a double, but still wins by two
AUCKLAND, New Zealand -- New Zealand's Mahal Pearce won the New Zealand Open on Sunday for his first pro title, shooting a 2-under 70 for a two-stroke victory over Australia's Brett Rumford.
Pearce, who began the round two strokes behind Australia's Chris Downes, took a four-shot lead to the final hole, but dropped two strokes with a double-bogey 6. He finished at 10-under 278 on the Auckland Golf Club's Middlemore course.
Rumford closed with a 68.
Downes (75) and Australia's Nathan Green (67) tied for third, three strokes back at 7-under.
American Darrell Kestner shot a 73 to tie for fifth at 5-under with New Zealand's Eddie Lee (69) and Australians Scott Gardiner (70) and Wade Ormsby (71).
The 49-year-old Kestner, who failed to qualify for the Champions Tour in November, is the head professional at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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