Purdy wins on third playoff hole as darkness falls

Updated: April 23, 2003, 10:35 AM ET
Associated Press

HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE, Ark. -- With darkness setting in, Ted Purdy rolled in a short birdie putt on the third playoff hole to defeat Chris Tidland on Sunday and win the $475,000 First Tee Arkansas Classic, his first career win.

Purdy and Tidland tied at 13-under-par 275 at the end of regulation after being forced to play 36 holes Sunday when rain postponed most of Saturday's third round.

Purdy collected $85,500 for the win and moved to No. 4 on the money list.

Purdy began the day tied for third at 8-under-par, some six shots back of 36-hole leader Zach Johnson. Purdy posted scores of 68-71 to join Tidland, 68-68, in the playoff.

Vance Veazey, Tjaart Van der Walt and Johnson shared third place at 12-under 276. Former Arkansas Razorback Mike Grob, Danny Ellis and Bo Van Pelt were two shots back.

Among other Arkansans, former Razorback Craig Lile of Conway had a 7-below 281, Bryce Molder of Conway and Ron Whittaker of Little Rock each finished 5-below with 283.

''Everybody wants to end it in regulation. In days, anyway,'' said Purdy, who would have been forced to a Monday close had he not rolled in his 2 foot birdie putt. ''No, I've never had a longer day. Eight to eight and we're still here but this is huge for me. What a great way to spend Easter Sunday.''

When rain suspended play during Saturday's third round, only five of the 61 players in the field had completed their rounds and ten were still waiting to tee off. Officials resumed play Sunday morning and didn't start the fourth round until the afternoon.

As the final round unfolded, no less than a dozen players had chances to win or join the playoff.

Purdy needed a 15-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force the playoff with Tidland, who had missed a 12-footer for birdie on his closing hole some 30 minutes earlier that would have given him the win outright.

A birdie on No. 15 pushed him to 13-under, but the former Arizona Wildcat gave it back with a bogey on the next hole. Purdy wedged his third shot to the 565-yard closing 18th to a distance he was comfortable with.

''I made a 15-footer for par at nine, which was huge. I hadn't been putting great prior to that and rolled my 45-footer well past the hole. That one for par gave me the confidence to know I could make them later on,'' he said. ''I had played so well all week, I stood over that putt and made up my mind I was going to make it.''

In the playoff each player had a chance to win and let the other off the hook. Playing only the uphill, 18th hole, Tidland missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole that could have won it. Purdy then missed a five-footer for birdie that could have ended on the second attempt. Given the option of stopping or going on, the two hurried back to the tee to try and beat the darkness.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press