One day, Garrett Willis was unknown to his playing partners. The next, he was the Tucson Open champion with a two-year exemption and a guaranteed ticket to next years elite Mercedes Championships.
The 27-year-old rookie with the University of Tennessee shot a 3-under-par 69 yesterday and won his first event as a card-carrying member of the PGA Tour by sinking a 6-foot putt to save par on the final hole.
It beat Kevin Sutherland by one stroke.
"Here I am, a month out of Q (qualifying) School, and I went there not knowing where I was going to be playing this year, and now Im a PGA winner," Willis exulted. "What a country this is!"
Willis, who finished at 15-under 273, earned $540,000, vaulting to third on the money list behind Match Play champion Steve Stricker and Jim Furyk, who won the Mercedes on Sunday.
Willis became the third player to win in his first action as a PGA member. The others were Ben Crenshaw at the 1973 San Antonio-Texas Open, and Robert Gamez in Tucson in 1990.
LAW AND ORDER
Martin hearings: Casey Martin longs for the day when he is known as an ordinary golfer, instead of the sports most famous litigant. But his career could be over before the legal battle is.
Martin, suffering from a painful and brittle right leg, has sued for the right to use a cart on the PGA Tour. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow.
"Theres no recourse for me after this," said Martin, who will attend the court proceedings with his family.
Martin, 28, has been allowed to use a cart pending appeals. However, his leg, afflicted by a rare circulatory disorder, is getting weaker. Amputation may become necessary. Or he could step the wrong way and the leg could snap, ending his career.
Martins game is also down. He finished in a tie for 23rd at the 1998 U.S. Open and qualified for the PGA Tour last year but did not play well enough to keep his card for 2001. In the first tournament of the season, the Tucson Open, he failed to make the cut.
Car crash: Kim Williams was recovering yesterday after breaking her collarbone and injuring her knee in a car wreck.
Williams was hurt Friday hours after she shot a par 72 in the first round of the season-opening event at Grand Cypress Resort in Florida. She was driving on a two-lane road when an oncoming driver had a seizure, swerved into her lane and hit her head-on, police said.
Williams, 37, was in stable condition at the Orlando Regional Medical Center after surgery Saturday.
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