REUTERS - Former teenage prodigy Danny Lee secured his long awaited breakthrough when he parred the second extra hole to win a four-way playoff at the Greenbrier Classic in West Virginia on Sunday.
The victory was the first on the PGA Tour for the New Zealander who beat Canadian David Hearn at the Old White TPC in White Sulphur Springs.
Lee and Hearn had birdied the first extra hole, the par-three 18th, where they both made 15-foot putts to eliminate Americans Kevin Kisner and Robert Streb.
“It feels amazing,” Lee said in a greenside interview after tapping in his winning putt from one foot.
“I was so close (to winning) a lot of times this year and I finally did it. Wow. Now I understand what winning on the PGA Tour feels like.”
Tiger Woods showed improvement, firing a bogey-free 67, but finished equal 32nd with a 273 total.
Lee, 24, was born in South Korea but is a citizen of New Zealand, where he spent his youth and looked like a can’t-miss prospect destined to take the golf world by storm.
He won the 2008 U.S. Amateur Championship at the age of 18, surpassing Woods as youngest champion of the event.
Lee made further history at the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic in Australia when he also became the youngest winner at a European Tour event.
But his progress stuttered in the ensuing years.
Lee carded a closing 67 to finish regulation locked with Hearn (67), Kisner (64) and Streb (65) at 13-under 267.
It was the third playoff loss for Kisner in the past three months.
“I’ve just got on a good run with my ball-striking,” Kisner told CBS. “I feel really comfortable over the golf ball, feel like I can hit every shot I need to hit.”
Streb nearly won despite putting with a wedge the final nine holes. His putter snapped a couple of inches above the putter-head when he tossed it at his golf bag at the ninth hole.
Amazingly, he putted superbly with his 56-degree wedge, sinking five birdies, though his luck ran out at the 17th, where he three-putted.
“I meant to toss (the putter) right next to the bag and it hit the bottom and the head went flying,” he said.
A player can replace a club during a round only when it is damaged while playing a shot.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina, editing by Gene Cherry