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Golf roundup — March 2

Associated Press Russell Henley chipped in for birdie and then hit into the water on his next shot for double bogey. He watched Rory McIlroy throw away a lead with a double bogey and a bogey, only to stand over a 12-foot eagle putt on the next hole with a chance to win. A wild Sunday at PGA National in Florida ended in a four-man playoff, with Henley making good on his second chance at the par-5 18th to win the Honda Classic. “This doesn’t feel real,” Henley said. It didn’t look much differently, starting with Tiger Woods walking off the course after 13 holes because of lower back pain, and ending with a series of blunders over the closing holes of a tournament that no one seemed to want to win. Eight yards away from where he had hit his drive on the 18th in regulation, Henley ripped another 5-wood and aimed a little more right. It barely cleared the bunker and stopped 40 feet away on the green for a two-putt birdie that was good enough to win when McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox could only make par. In regulation, Henley turned what should have been a good chance at birdie into a struggle for par by missing the green well to the left and chunking his chip only halfway to the hole. He had to two-putt from 60 feet for a par and a 72, joining the playoff at 8-under 272. “So the next time, I just said, ‘All these guys are probably going to make birdie.’ And I just needed to trust my swing and put the best swing I can on it and not be too worried about where it goes,” Henley said. For McIlroy, it was his tournament to lose, and he did just that. He started with a 2-shot lead and closed with a 74. The biggest blow came on the 16th hole, when he tried to hit 6-iron out of the bunker and over the water, caught too much sand and went in the water for double bogey. Still tied for the lead, he went long on the 17th and failed to save par from the bunker. Down to his last shot, he delivered the best one of the day — a 5-wood from 236 yards that dropped 12 feet from the hole. His eagle putt for the win just slid by on the right. That turned out to be his best chance. In the playoff, with a drive about 10 yards longer, McIlroy went into a back bunker and couldn’t keep his next shot on the green. “I didn’t play well enough to deserve a win today,” McIlroy said. “Seventy-four today wasn’t good enough to get the job done.” Palmer was the only player in the final six groups to break par with a 69 on a day when PGA National showed some bite, with an average score of 71.8. Even so, he missed putts inside 8 feet on the last five holes, including a 5-footer for par on the 18th that would have won it in regulation. In the playoff, he missed a 10-foot birdie putt to the left. Knox needed a birdie in regulation for a chance to win, and instead went from the bunker to deep rough to over the green before making a 10-foot par putt and a 71. He was the only player to lay up in the playoff, and he missed a 20-foot birdie attempt.

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LPGA Tour

Paula Creamer made a 75-foot eagle putt on the second hole of a playoff with Azahara Munoz to win the HSBC Women’s Champions for her first LPGA Tour title since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open.

Creamer’s downhill putt curled right to left across the 18th green. The American ran across the green, fell to her knees and put her head on the ground, laughing and pounding the grass.

Creamer closed with a 3-under 69 to match Munoz at 10-under 278 on Sentosa’s Serapong Course in Singapore. Munoz, from Spain, shot a 70. Australia’s Karrie Webb was a stroke back in third. She blew a 3-stroke lead on the back nine, bogeying three of the last six holes. Creamer has 10 LPGA Tour titles.

European Tour

England’s Ross Fisher won the Tshwane Open in South Africa for his fifth European Tour title, closing with a 2-under 70 for a 3-stroke victory.

Fisher finished at 2-under 268 at the Els Club at Copperleaf. South Africa’s Danie van Tonder and Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey tied for second. Van Tonder shot 66, and Hoey had a 68.


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