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Perry Wins Bay Hill After Singh Suffers Rocky Finish

Associated Press
Monday, March 21, 2005; Page D14

Vijay Singh returned to No. 1 in the world yesterday and couldn't care less.

Kenny Perry lost a three-shot lead over three holes, but emerged as the winner in the Bay Hill Invitational in Orlando when Singh hit a 7-iron off the rocks and into the water on the 18th hole to make double bogey, the second straight week he has blown a chance to win.


Mark Johnson, known as the "Beer Man" because he drove a Budweiser truck for 18 years, toasts to victory. (Chris Carlson -- Reuters)

_____On the Next Tee_____
On the Next Tee

PGA TOUR

Event: The Players Championship.

When: Thursday-Sunday.

Course: TPC at Sawgrass (7,093 yards, par 72), Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Purse: $8 million ($1.44 million to winner).

TV: ESPN (Thursday-Friday, noon); NBC (Saturday, 2 p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m.).

Defending Champion: Adam Scott.

LPGA TOUR

Event: Kraft Nabisco Championship.

When: Thursday-Sunday.

Course: Mission Hills CC (6,535 yards, par 72), Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Purse: $1.8 million ($270,000 to winner).

TV: ESPN2 (Thursday- Friday, 5 p.m.); ABC (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4 p.m.).

Defending Champion: Grace Park.

EUROPEAN TOUR

Event: Indonesia Open.

When: Thursday-Sunday.

Course: Cengkareng GC (6,855 yards, par 70), Jakarta.

Purse: $1 million.

TV: None.

Defending Champion: Inaugural event.

CHAMPIONS TOUR

No event scheduled.


With Singh in the water, Perry went for the center of the green and lagged his 70-foot putt within two feet. He closed with a 2-under-par 70 and at age 44 became the oldest winner of Arnold Palmer's tournament.

Last week, Singh missed a 2 1/2-foot par putt on the second extra hole at the Honda Classic to lose to Padraig Harrington. The Fijian made a spectacular charge at Bay Hill, with two birdies and a clutch par to erase a three-shot deficit and reach the 18th hole with momentum on his side.

From 174 yards in the middle of the fairway, he posed over his shot as it descended against the hazy sky, then bent over in anguish as it crashed off the rocks and splashed into the lake.

"It stunned me," Perry said. "I expected him to come up close. It was a big break for me. I just aimed left and played it safe. I knew I could three-putt."

The only consolation for Singh was replacing Tiger Woods at No. 1 in the world.

With Woods chopping his way around Bay Hill to finish out of the top 20, Singh only had to finish fourth to return to No. 1 in the world rankings.

"Big deal," Singh said. "I lost the golf tournament."

For the second straight week, Singh watched someone else pose with the trophy. And for the second straight week, he declined to come into the press center for an interview as a joint runner-up.

Perry finished at 12-under 276 for his eighth career victory, worth $900,000, giving him loads of confidence heading into the first stretch of big tournaments.

The other consolation prize went to Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland.

He never seriously challenged for the lead, but the 25-year-old turned in a flawless final round that produced the best round of the tournament. He closed with a 6-under 66 to finish third, which gets him into the Players Championship next week and likely will earn him a spot in his first Masters.

John Daly had also had an adventure on No. 18, taking four swipes at a ball in the rocks and making an 11. Seven years ago, Daly hit six balls into the water on the par-5 sixth hole at Bay Hill and made an 18.


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