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Sports

Kaye wins Buick Classic in playoff

| Monday, June 23, 2003

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Jonathan Kaye won the water-logged Buick Classic for his first PGA Tour title Sunday, holing a 12-foot eagle putt from just off the back of the 18th green on the first hole of a playoff with John Rollins.

Kaye, who lost a playoff to Chris Riley last year in the Reno-Tahoe Open, made a 4-foot birdie putt in regulation on the par-5 closing hole to match Rollins at 13-under-par 271 on the saturated Westchester Country Club course.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet," said Kaye, a five-time runner-up in seven full seasons on the tour. "That's why we're all out here -- to win. It's nice to finally come out on top."

Kaye played 30 holes yesterday, completing the rain-delayed third round with a 3-under 68 and matching Rollins -- who missed a 12-foot birdie putt in the playoff before Kaye's winning eagle -- with a 67 in the final round.

"It was a long day," Kaye said. "It was hard walking around on this wet, soggy grass. And my knee was bothering me, too."

After bogeying his final hole Saturday to drop to 6-under, Kaye played the final 11 holes of the third round in 3-under and reached 12-under in the fourth round with birdies on Nos. 4, 5 and 7. He bogeyed the par-5 ninth, but got back to 12-under with a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and tied Rollins with the 4-footer on No. 18.

Kaye earned $900,000 for his breakthrough victory, two years after the 32-year-old former University of Colorado player was suspended by the tour for a confrontation with a tournament security guard during the Michelob Championship.

With security heightened a month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Kaye, upset after the guard prevented him from entering the locker room without his tour money clip, returned with the identification clip attached to the zipper of his pants.

Rollins shot 67s in the final three rounds to reach his second career playoff. Last year in the Canadian Open, he beat Justin Leonard and Neal Lancaster with a birdie on the first extra hole after Lancaster double-bogeyed the final hole of regulation.

"It's always tough when you just stand around and wait for everybody to finish and then have to start over," Rollins said. "That's the way it happened, and I just didn't get the job done when I needed to. And Jonathan made a great eagle putt in the playoff, so my hat's off to him."

Joey Sindelar had rounds of 70 and 68 to finish third at 11-under, and Sergio Garcia (66-69) was another stroke back along with Fred Funk (64-69), Jay Haas (67-65) and Skip Kendall (70-70). Briny Baird, tied for the third-round lead after topping the field the first two days, closed with a 77 to tie for 30th at 3-under.

Tiger Woods, winless since the Bay Hill Invitational in March, had rounds of 71 and 70 to tie for 13th at 7-under. He's winless in four appearances in the Buick Classic, one of only five tour events he has played more than once without winning.

The eight-time major champion was three strokes behind the leaders after the completion of the third round but failed to get into contention in the final round for the second straight week. Last week in the U.S. Open, he closed with rounds of 75 and 72 to tie for 20th -- 11 strokes behind winner Jim Furyk.

Garcia, the 2001 winner in a Monday finish, bogeyed the par-5 18th hole -- taking four strokes from inside 40 feet after hitting a 3-iron approach from 235 yards over the green and into the deep rough.

"I'm thinking birdie to go to a playoff and eagle to win," Garcia said. "It's just one of those things. I played well and put myself in a position to win. That's the most important thing."

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