(Reuters) - American Charley Hoffman, helped by some brilliant iron play down the stretch, clinched his first PGA Tour title in four years with a one-shot victory at the $6.1 million OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico on Sunday.
Three strokes off the pace heading into the final round, Hoffman surged past fast-starting Danny Lee with two birdies after the turn on the way to a five-under-par 66 on the El Camaleon course at the ocean resort of Playa del Carmen.
Hoffman could afford the luxury of a bogey at the last as he finished at 17-under 267, a stroke better than fellow American Shawn Stefani, who closed birdie-bogey for a 69 in pursuit of his first PGA Tour win.
New Zealander Lee, also hunting a maiden victory on the circuit, stormed into the lead with seven consecutive birdies from the third but lost momentum after the turn to card a 67 for a share of third at 15 under with American Andres Gonzales (67).
“I was behind a little bit and I just kept hitting good shots and gave myself chances,” a beaming Hoffman, 37, told Golf Channel after clinching his third win on the PGA Tour, and his first since the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship.
”Danny made a couple of bogeys coming down the stretch and I was able to keep giving myself opportunities for birdie, made a couple.
“I‘m really happy. It’s been a while in between (wins) but I kept calm out there. A pretty low-stress round, when all is said and done.”
Lee, who burst onto the world stage by winning the 2008 U.S. amateur title before becoming the European Tour’s youngest ever champion aged 18 at the 2009 Johnnie Walker Classic, launched his sizzling birdie blitz at the par-four third.
The 24-year-old sank a 10-foot putt at the ninth to make it seven in a row as he reached the turn in seven-under 29 with a one-stroke lead.
Stefani reeled off three successive birdies from the fifth for an outward nine of 33 to stay in contention.
Lee, looking increasingly tense on the back nine, bogeyed the 12th, 15th and 18th as his victory hopes evaporated while Hoffman took control with birdies at the 13th and 16th, where he lasered his approach to inside two feet and knocked in the putt.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry