Golf

Simpson grabs first PGA Tour win

Webb Simpson grew up in North Carolina, and his favorite memory of the Wyndham Championship was caddying for Neal Lancaster as a teenager during a pro-am.

That might change now that he's won the tournament.

Simpson claimed his first PGA Tour title Sunday, shooting a 3-under 67 to win by three strokes at Greensboro, N.C.

The 26-year-old Raleigh native finished at 18-under 262 and collected $936,000 in the tournament about a 30-mile drive from the Wake Forest campus where he was a college star.

"I really couldn't think of a better place to win than here in Greensboro," Simpson said.

George McNeill (64) was at 15 under, with Tommy Gainey (69) another stroke back in the final event before the PGA Tour playoffs.

Carl Pettersson (69), Vijay Singh (65), Jerry Kelly (65), Kyung-tae Kim (66) and Charles Howell III (67) finished at 13 under at Sedgefield Country Club.

Simpson said his first visit to the Greensboro-based tournament came when he was 16. His father brought him to the event's former home across town at Forest Oaks Country Club to caddie for Lancaster during the Wednesday pro-am.

"That was probably the most fun 18 holes I've ever been a part of," Simpson said.

His final 18 of this tournament were marked by steady, bogey-free play and a strong finish marked by consecutive birdies on Nos. 15 and 16.

After taking the lead during Round 3 with a late five-hole stretch of four birdies and an eagle, Simpson opened his final round with eight straight pars before moving to 16 under with a birdie on the par-4 ninth.

He stayed there until late in the day. Birdies on the par-5 15th and the par-3 16th gave him a three-shot lead with two holes to go.

"When I made the putt on 15, I asked my caddie for the first time all day, 'Where do we stand?' and he said, 'We're two ahead right now,'" Simpson said. "I knew I needed to play solid golf on the last three holes, and to birdie 16 was so huge.... I knew I had a three-shot lead on 18, and as soon as I hit the ball in play, I knew it was probably over."

McNeill made a late charge, with the former Florida State player moving to 15 under with a birdie on No. 17, his sixth birdie of the round. But all he could do after that was hope for a few late bogeys from Simpson.

Pettersson turned in perhaps the most remarkable birdie of the tournament on the par-4 first hole. After sending his drive well wide of the fairway and into a flower pot, he wound up chipping in from about 55 feet.

Senior Players Championship — Fred Couples knocked in a 3-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to defeat John Cook and win at Harrison, N.Y., for his first major victory on the Champions Tour.

Couples did not have his best day of putting and missed a birdie on 18 that would have given him the win after trailing by two strokes most of the day. He won the playoff when a second shot on the 17th hole landed a few feet shy of the hole, setting up a short tap-in for the win.

Midwest Classic — Australia's James Nitties won at Overland Park for his first Nationwide Tour title, shooting with a 6-under 65 for a five-stroke victory.

Nitties earned $99,000 to jump from 53rd to 12th on the money list with $150,537, putting him in position to earn a 2012 PGA Tour card as top-25 finisher on the final list.

He opened with rounds of 65, 63 and 65 and finished at 26-under 258 at Nicklaus Golf Club at LionsGate.

Jonas Blixt (66) and Nick Flanagan (68) tied for second, and J.J. Killeen (70), Jason Kokrak (65) and Josh Geary (69) followed at 20 under. Killeen was trying to win for the third time in four weeks.

Safeway Classic — Suzann Pettersen won the LPGA event at North Plains, Ore., overcoming a nine-stroke deficit with a 7-under 64 and beating Na Yeon Choi with a par on the first hole of a playoff at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

In the playoff, Choi's second shot on the par-4 18th went into the water to the right of the green, and she missed a putt for bogey before Pettersen sank her winning putt.

Czech Open — Oliver Fisher of England won the Czech Open, shooting a 3-under 69 to finish two strokes ahead of Mikael Lundberg of Sweden and earn his first European Tour victory.

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