In Cromwell, Conn., Brad Faxon rolled in a three-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to win the Buick Championship yesterday over Tjaart van der Walt of South Africa.

Faxon, who won for the first time since 2001, tied the TPC at River Highlands course record in regulation with a 9-under 61, a personal best for the 44-year-old. He charged from the middle of the pack and overtook third-round leader Justin Rose on the closing holes.

Faxon, who made the 36-hole cut on the number, stayed close to home for his eighth PGA Tour victory, earning a $774,000 paycheck. The Rhode Islander has been a mainstay at this New England tournament, appearing 22 times. His best finish had been an eighth in 1996.

"People get excited about this tournament and I love playing close to home," Faxon said. "Nobody on tour would ever tell you anything differently. My father came today, my aunt, my uncle, my cousins are here. Great friends are here. It's just awesome."

In the playoff, Faxon drove into the left fairway bunker and had 169 yards to the hole. He stuck his 7-iron approach three feet from the cup. Van der Walt drove it right down the middle to within 134 yards. His approached banged off the flagstick and rolled just over nine feet from the cup. The players high-fived each other as they walked up the 18th fairway to an ovation.

Van der Walt pushed his birdie putt right, then stood back and watched as Faxon coolly rolled his in for the win.

* U.S. AMATEUR: Edoardo Molinari, a 24-year-old Italian, dropped a 40-foot birdie putt at No. 11 to complete a six-hole turnaround and extend his lead to three holes, then went on to beat American Dillon Dougherty, 4 and 3, to win the U.S. Amateur title at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.

He became the first Italian male to win a U.S. Golf Association title, and the first European to win the Amateur since Harold Hilton in 1911.

"It means a lot to me," Molinari said of winning at the historic Hugh Wilson-designed layout. "I still have to realize it completely. I'm really, really happy to have this win and to have won it here, especially."

The finalists earned invitations to next year's Masters and U.S. Open, and as the winner, Molinari gets a return trip to the British Open, where he finished 60th this year at St. Andrews.

* CHAMPIONS TOUR: Loren Roberts bogeyed the second playoff hole but still won the Tradition in Aloha, Ore., beating Dana Quigley, who double-bogeyed and failed again to win his first major.

Quigley's 31/2-foot putt for bogey on No. 17 at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club lipped out, while Roberts's fell.

"It's just not my turn yet," Quigley said.

Roberts, who turned 50 this year, was playing in just his third event on the Champions Tour.

* LPGA TOUR: Cristie Kerr won the Wendy's Championship for Children, closing with a 3-under-par 69 shortly after Pat Hurst fell from a tie for the lead with a double bogey on the last hole in Dublin, Ohio. Kerr finished one shot ahead of Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam. . . .

Nancy Lopez went with veterans for her two captain's picks to the U.S. Solheim Cup team, selecting Wendy Ward and Hall of Famer Beth Daniel to complete the 12-player team that will face Europe Sept. 9-11 at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind.

Brad Faxon celebrates after sinking his birdie putt on the first playoff hole at the Buick Championship. He won for the first time since 2001.