Ed Fiori made a 35-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff today to beat Tom Kite and win the five-day Bob Hope Desert Classic.
Fiori, who started the round with a one-stroke lead, had to come from behind with a two-putt birdie 4 on the 90th hole--the last regulation hole in this, the longest tournament in golf--to force the playoff.
He and Kite, the leading money-winner in golf last year, finished the regulation five rounds with scores of 335, 25 under par and matching the tournament record set a year ago by Bruce Lietzke.
Kite closed with 66, six under par on the 6,455-yard Indian Wells Country Club course. Fiori, winning for the third time in his four-year career, closed with 67.
The playoff began on the par-3 15th hole. Fiori hit within three feet of the cup. Kite within about four feet. Both made birdie.
On the 16th, a par 4, Fiori put his approach 35 feet from the flag and Kite spun his in close, about six feet. Kite appeared in command.
But Fiori's putt was good, and he waved his putter in salute to the birdie.
Now it was Kite's turn.
He missed the six-footer, pushing the putt to the right.
The victory was Fiori's third on the tour and provided him with $50,000 from the total purse of $300,000. Kite, winner of only one individual title, earned $29,700.
Today's second-place finish pushed Kite's career earnings to $1,349,447, 15th place on the all-time list, one spot ahead of Ben Crenshaw, his former University of Texas teammate.
Rex Caldwell, who, as did Kite, started today a shot behind Fiori, finished third at 337.
Scott Hoch, who made a 30-foot eagle putt on the 18th, was next at 338 after a closing 65. He was followed by Curtis Strange at 339 after a closing 65, and Wayne Levi and Mark O'Meara at 340. Levi closed with 64 and O'Meara had 70.