NEW YORK (Reuters) - Little-known American Bill Lunde overhauled pace-setting German Alex Cejka to win his maiden PGA Tour title by one shot at the Turning Stone Resort Championship in Verona, New York, on Sunday.
Four strokes behind Cejka going into the final round, Lunde charged ahead with a sizzling front nine of six-under-par 30 on the way to a six-under 66 at Atunyote Golf Club.
A rookie on the PGA Tour last year, Lunde offset a bogey at the 11th with a birdie at the 16th to post a 17-under total of 271, and book his place in next week’s PGA Championship.
“Shooting 30 on the front side was obviously big momentum and got my confidence going,” the 34-year-old told reporters after celebrating his breakthrough on the U.S. circuit. “I tried not to get too conservative.
“I tried to keep playing, tried to make birdies where I had a chance and tried to stay in the moment. And I was able to pull it off today. It feels great.”
Fellow American JJ Henry, helped by an eagle at the par-five 12th, fired a sparkling 63 to secure second place while Cejka had to settle for a five-way tie for third at 15-under after closing with a 72.
“On this golf course, you miss three shots in two holes it’s really difficult to bounce back,” Cejka said after surrendering the lead by stumbling to the turn in two-over 38.
The Czech Republic-born German caught Lunde with three consecutive birdies from the 10th, but his title bid was all but over when he slipped again with a bogey at the 14th.
“Bill played really well today so I knew to win I needed to shoot two or three-under at least,” said Cejka, who was also bidding for his first PGA Tour victory. “I gave it the best I could, and I gotta wait for another week.”
Most of the PGA Tour’s biggest names were competing this week in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio.
Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Akron, Ohio; Editing by Frank Pingue/Ian Ransom
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