Fuzzy Zoeller went leaping in the air when a 72nd-hole birdie found the cup and made him a winner today in the Sea Pines Heritage Classic.
Zoeller, who lost a two-shot lead with a double bogey on the first hole, capped his comeback with the 12-foot putt under the shadow of the red-and-white striped lighthouse.
That got him back to par 71 for the struggling round, lifted him out of a multiple-man tie for the top and provided him his second victory of the season. Zoeller, bad back and all, took a skipping step as the ball neared the hole, then went airborne as it dropped in.
It gave him a four-day total of 276, 8 under par on the Harbour Town Golf Links, and left Greg Norman, Chip Beck and Roger Maltbie suddenly dead without a playoff.
"This is a thinking man's golf course with 18 holes that can jump up and bite you," said Zoeller. "The first four holes bit me today. I started out poorly, no question about it, but I kept on trucking. This isn't the type of course where someone is gonna run away and hide."
Zoeller's ninth career victory, and second in this elite event, was worth $81,000 from the purse of $450,000. That put Zoeller's 1986 earnings at $221,335, third on the PGA Tour list.
"I enjoy this game immensely and the excitement that goes along with it," said Zoeller, who suffers from chronic back pain. "I'm gonna stay in it as long as I can."
Norman, also a runner-up in the Masters a week ago, Maltbie and Beck tied for second at 277. Jay Haas, in the chase until the final hole, ended at 278.
Bernhard Langer, the defending champion, went to a 75 -- 11 shots higher than his Saturday score -- and finished well back at 285.
Zoeller reached the turn in 39. At that point, he was three shots behind Maltbie.
"I almost let it get out of reach," Zoeller said.
He made a long putt for birdie on 11. Maltbie bogeyed the 14th and Zoeller was back in it when he threw a soft little shot inside of a foot for a tap-in birdie moments later on the same hole.
Zoeller saved par with a six-foot putt on the 15th, and, going to the 16th tee, Zoeller, Norman and Maltbie were tied for the lead at 7-under, with Beck and Haas a stroke back. All five parred the next two holes and took the drama down to the last hole.
Norman and Maltbie, playing in front of the other three, had birdie putts on the 18th -- and missed. Then Zoeller, Beck and Haas all put their approaches within 20 feet. Beck, putting first, scored from 15 feet and, momentarily, was tied for the lead. Then Zoeller putted.
Tom Purtzer aced the 173-yard 17th.