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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 27, 2006

Triplett rallies to take Chrysler Classic title

Associated Press

Triplett

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TUCSON, Ariz. Kirk Triplett was nowhere near the leaderboard through two rounds at the Chrysler Classic of Tucson. Yet when it was over, it was Triplett hoisting the golden conquistador helmet and celebrating his first PGA Tour victory in three seasons.

"It just came out of nowhere," he said.

Triplett opened his final round yesterday with five straight birdies and added another four in a row over the back nine, shooting a 63 to earn his third PGA Tour victory and first since the 2003 Reno-Tahoe Open.

With a 22-under 266, Triplett finished a shot ahead of Jerry Kelly. Duffy Waldorf, the second- and third-round leader who seemed poised for his first victory in six years, shot 72 and tied for third at 19 under with Bubba Watson (70) and Heath Slocum (68).

Triplett, 43, won $540,000 from the $3 million purse, but nobody saw this coming at least not until his spectacular chip-in at No. 17.

"That won the tournament for me, for sure," Triplett said.

Triplett's 63 was the lowest final round by a Tucson winner since Johnny Miller's 61 in 1975, but there probably would have been a playoff if not for the shot of the tournament on No. 17.

Dueling with Waldorf and Kelly down the stretch, Triplett knew he needed to stay aggressive. So he hit a 5-iron on the 186-yard par-3 and his ball settled on the fringe left of the flag, 51 feet from the hole.

"The lie was excellent," he said. "It was just a perfect little sand wedge chip. I ran it onto the green and let it roll out."

Nationwide Tour: Canadian Jim Rutledge won the New Zealand PGA Championship, overcoming a nine-stroke deficit with an 8-under 64 en route to a one-stroke victory over Australians Brett Rumford and Jarrod Lyle at Christchurch, New Zealand. The 46-year-old Rutledge had an eagle-birdie finish for a 9-under 279 total on the Clearwater course. Punahou alum Parker McLachlin shot a 68285 and won $7,762.10.

Champions Tour: Jerry Pate won a PGA Tour-sanctioned event for the first time in 24 years, birdieing the final hole for a 5-under 65 and a one-stroke victory over three players in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am at Lutz, Fla. Pate had an 11-under 202 total and earned $240,000 for his first victory since the PGA Tour's 1982 Tournament Players Championship.