Daniel Chopra wins Ginn Classic

India born Swede Daniel Chopra edged Fredrik Jacobsen and Shigeki Mauryama by one shot for his first PGA Tour triumph.

updated: October 31, 2007 14:26 IST
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Daniel Chopra tapped in for par, then pumped his right fist into the air.

Finally, victory was his.

Chopra re-claimed the lead with a birdie at the par-5 16th hole on Monday morning and held on to win the oft-delayed Ginn sur Mer Classic, edging Fredrik Jacobsen and Shigeki Mauryama by one shot for his first PGA Tour triumph.

Chopra finished at 19 under, becoming the 12th first-time winner on tour this season.

The win came in Chopra's 133rd career start, and the $810,000 winner's check pushed his career earnings to just shy of $5 million. He saw a four-shot lead over his nearest pursuers evaporate as darkness fell on Tesoro Club Sunday night, then returned in the morning and coolly finished off the long-awaited win.

Maruyama left with one pretty good consolation prize - a card for next season.

His tie for second earned him $396,000, vaulting him from 137th to 103rd on the money list with just one tournament remaining, meaning he's a cinch to finish among the top 125 and have full playing privileges next season.

"This year was really hard, the most difficult year in eight years for myself," said Maruyama, who had been in the top 80 on the money list in each of his first seven years on tour. "I'm really happy."

He won't have to worry about playing next week's Children's Miracle Network Classic at the Disney courses near Orlando, either.

"Bye, bye, Disney," Maruyama said in perfect English.

Jacobsen's finish was his best in 96 starts on tour.

Dicky Pride (64) was alone in fourth at 16 under, earning $216,000 - the second-biggest check of his career, $9,000 shy of what he earned for winning the 1994 St. Jude Classic.

He was at the course Monday morning, just in case there was a playoff.

"Couldn't take the chance," Pride said. "I didn't want my wife to drive home alone, but I had to stay."

Chopra, Maruyama and Jacobsen all entered the morning 18 under, with Chopra having three holes left to play and the others with two. That figured to give Chopra a big edge, since his first hole of Monday was the par-5 16th, the easiest on the course this week and one he'd already made birdie on three times.

Make it four.

Chopra's 10-footer for birdie - after missing the fairway off the tee - gave him a one-shot lead, after Maruyama and Jacobsen both missed the green and scrambled for par at the par-3 17th.

Chopra didn't find 17 easy, either. He hit the green, albeit 55 feet from the hole, and made a 4-footer to save par and maintain the lead. And at the 18th, needing par to win, his drive found a bunker, but his second shot stopped 25 feet from the hole to set up the title-clinching two-putt.

Ken Duke (70), Charlie Wi (71), Sean O'Hair (74) and Cameron Beckman (72) finished tied for fifth at 13 under. That was huge for Beckman, who jumped 10 spots to 118th on the money list after winning nearly $160,000 at the Ginn and greatly enhancing his odds of reaching that top-125 plateau.

Bob Estes and Tommy Armour III, who shared the lead after the first two rounds, struggled on the weekend. Estes shot a final-round 77 and finished tied for 12th at 11 under, while Armour shot 78-72 and finished tied for 16th.

Briny Baird, who lives just a few miles from Tesoro Club and was tied for second entering the final round, shot 78 and finished nine shots back.