Scott Hoch shot a two-under-par 70 today to defeat Tom Watson and Bob Shearer by two strokes in the weather-delayed and flood-shortened New Orleans Open golf tournament.
Hoch, 26, earned the second victory of his three-year PGA Tour career with a 54-hole total of 206, 10 strokes under par on the Lakewood Country Club course.
The tournament lost two days' play to rain, which as late as Sunday had the course under several inches of water. Officials reduced the tournament from the standard 72 holes to 54 to give players time to get to Dallas and the start of this week's Byron Nelson Classic.
The course remained spotted by pools and puddles of water and was so wet the players were allowed to lift, clean and place balls in the fairway.
The purse of $400,000 was cut to $300,000. The winner's share was reduced from $72,000 to $54,000, but still represented the biggest prize of Hoch's career. It increased his winnings this season to $127,176.
"I never knew I liked rain so much," he said.
Hoch, a Wake Forest alumnus, started the day one shot in front of Australian Shearer, briefly lost the top spot, then regained it with consecutive birdies on the eighth and ninth holes.
Probably his biggest challenge came from Watson, winner of this event the last two seasons. Playing about a half-hour in front of Hoch, Watson came from five strokes back with a no-bogey 67 and twice closed within two shots of Hoch.
"I thought starting out today I had to shoot 65 to have a chance. I just fell two shots short of my mark," Watson said.
Shearer, who last week won the Tallahassee Open, had a closing 71, with a double bogey on No. 7. That let Hoch regain the top spot and he held it the rest of the way despite erratic play on the back nine.
"Maybe it was nerves," he said. ". . . It probably was one of the worst nines I've played this year."
But it was good enough. And Hoch, in a hurry to secure his victory, putted out on the 18th before Shearer could finish.
"I wanted to get it out of the way," Hoch said of his inches-long putt. "As shaky as I was, there was nothing certain about that putt."