In Sun City, Bophuthatswana, American Johnny Miller subdued Seve Ballesteros of Spain with a routine par on the ninth hole of a sudden-death playoff yesterday and won the biggest prize in the history of golf.
After struggling through two hours of playoff activity with $340,000 hanging on every shot, Ballesteros finally made the mistake that let Miller escape with the title in the Sun City Million Dollar Golf Challenge.
Miller also claimed $500,000 when Ballesteros three-putted from 50 feet on the ninth playoff hole. Ballesteros won $160,000 for second place.
Tournament officials already had decided that was as far as it was going to go. Darkness was setting in and, had the playoff not ended there, it would have been postponed until today.
Miller and Ballesteros finished the regulation 72 holes tied at 11-under-par 277. Each shot a 71 over the last 18 holes of regulation.
The playoff began on the 18th hole and they matched strokes through three circuits around the 16th, 17th and 18th before Miller's routine, two-putt par won it.
Jack Nicklaus missed the playoff by a single stroke. He failed on a short, par-saving putt of about three feet on the 72nd hole to fall out of a tie for the top spot.
Lee Trevino and host Gary Player, the others in the elite, invitational five-man field, were out of the title chase after the second day. Trevino had a 289 on rounds of 70, 74, 74, 71 and won $110,000. Player was last at 292 after rounds of 70, 77, 72, 73 and won $100,000.