Laird redeems himself in playoff to win again in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Martin Laird looked like a winner with an unlikely par save on the 71st hole of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, across the cart lane, under the trees, between two bunkers and an 18-foot putt.
He had to return to par 17th in a three-man playoff to end the job with a birdie.
Laird ended seven years without a win on Sunday when he bogeyed from the fairway on the final hole of TPC Summerlin and then cashed in with a birdie putt of nearly 20 feet on the second additional hole against Matthew Wolff and Austin Cook.
"It's been a while since my last, and you sometimes have some doubts as to whether you're going to get another," Laird said. “I've played so well all week. This week, Tee to Green, was probably the best I've ever played. It was very special to see this putt. "
It was the third time Laird was in a playoff in Las Vegas that featured all three players. He won for his first PGA Tour win in 2009. He lost the following year on the 17th when Jonathan Byrd made a hole-in-one in the dark.
What made it special was that Laird wasn't even sure he was going to play.
While preparing for golf to return from the COVID-19 pandemic, he tore the meniscus in his left knee and underwent surgery while he was out of the season. It still had a status that was carried over due to the shutdown but fell so far on the list that it was needed as a sponsorship waiver for Las Vegas.
And then it paid off.
“Sometimes you come back and you just want to play great right away. I knew it was going to be a process, "Laird said." I knew it was going in the right direction and that I was coming to a course that I love. But I'm not ahead of myself and thought I would come back and win as soon as I did. Just makes it so much cuter. "
He was number 351 in the world, the third winner of the last four regular PGA Tour events placed outside the top 300.
Laird needed two top 10 finishes in opposing competitions at the end of the 2019 season to keep his card. Now the 37-year-old Scot is exempt until the 2023 season and will return to the Masters in April.
The bogey on the 18th hole in regulation gave Laird a 68 to drop into a playoff at 23-under 261 with Wolff and Cook, who each closed with a 66.
Laird seemed to have it all when he discovered a buried lie near the lip of a bunker while facing a forward pin on the ninth par-5. He shot away, turned his head, and looked back to see the great shot for the eagle trickle into the cup. He played the hole in 7 under for the week.
It gave him a three-shot lead over the back nine. But he couldn't hold it.
Cook never actually went away, closing within one shot with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th, and burning the rim of the cup on his birdie attempt at the lock hole. Wolff was never far away and arrived in a powerful breakout with a two-putt birdie on the attainable par-4-15, blasting a 375-yard drive on the par-5-16. And stuffed the wedge for the eagle to 10 feet.
Laird wobbled down the track, but in the end he delivered the winner.
Patrick Cantlay, who shared the 54-hole lead with Laird, was the biggest surprise of the day. Cantlay won the tournament in 2017 and has finished runner-up for the past two years. Fourteen of his 15 rounds at TPC Summerlin were below average. It opened with four bogies in six holes and only made a birdie on the 13th and closed with a 73.
US Open Champion Bryson DeChambeau finished on a 66 and that was the worst thing he could have done. With a helping wind he played the par 5 on the back nine in 1 over. He also drove the last one out of a bunker.
He finished eighth on his first appearance since becoming Major Champion at Winged Foot and is now heading back to the lab - or in his case, the gym - for the next month before reappearing at the Masters.
Abraham Ancer screwed the last two holes to get a 67 alone in fourth place. Will Zalatoris finished on a 69 for a three-way tie for fifth, which left him barely enough FedEx Cup points to earn a special temporary membership on the PGA Tour. His next chance is in Bermuda in three weeks.

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