Smylie close to tears after stunning Vegas victory

Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:15pm EDT
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(Reuters) - PGA Tour rookie Smylie Kaufman stormed from seven strokes off the pace to clinch a stunning one-stroke victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Kaufman, playing some two hours ahead of the overnight leaders, shot a bogey-free 10-under-par 61, sinking his winning birdie putt from 20 feet at the par-four 18th at TPC Summerlin in the Nevada desert.

He finished at 16-under-par 268, one stroke ahead of six players, including former champion Kevin Na (67), whose 15-foot birdie chance at the last shaved the hole, and overnight leader Brett Stegmaier (69).

Stegmaier also missed a good birdie opportunity at the last.

Kaufman, a 23-year-old from Alabama playing in just his fifth PGA Tour event, collected $1.152 million, along with an invitation to next April's Masters.

It was the mention of the latter, rather than the money, that reduced Smylie almost to tears.

"I can’t put it into words," he told Golf Channel, his voice cracking with emotion.

"I’ve been hitting it so good the last two days. I just wanted to give myself a chance and post a number.

"I dodged a lot of bullets coming down the stretch. Just thankful to get the W."   Continued...

Smylie Kaufman holds the trophy after winning the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin at TPC Summerlin. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports