March 9, 2015 / 12:42 AM / 3 years ago

Germany's Cejka wins Puerto Rico Open in five-way playoff

(Reuters) - German veteran Alex Cejka sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the first extra hole for victory in a five-way playoff at the Puerto Rico Open on Sunday.

File photo of Germany's Alex Cejka as he lines up a putt on the 17th green during the second day of the European Tour Hong Kong Open golf tournament December 6, 2013. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The 44-year-old outlasted Americans Jon Curran, Tim Petrovic and Sam Saunders and Argentine Emiliano Grillo to seal the win.

They all finished at seven-under-par 281 at the Trump International course in Rio Grande to force the first five-man playoff on the PGA Tour since Phil Mickelson won the 2006 BellSouth Classic.

Curran and Grillo both bogeyed the par-five 18th in regulation to fall into the playoff.

Cejka, who shot a closing 69, collected $540,000 for his first win on the PGA Tour.

“The first victory is always the toughest, so I’m glad it’s done,” Cejka told reporters, admitting he was surprised that Curran and Grillo both butchered the 72nd hole.

“I had everything ready to go to the airport and almost was very satisfied with a third-place finish.

“Suddenly it changed, and here I am. And I‘m very, very pleased. I don’t think I‘m going to sleep tonight.”

A four-time winner on the European Tour, he endured a 12-year global drought before winning on the secondary US-based tour in 2014.

“At least I can say I played PGA Tour for a long time and I won. That’s a good sentence I can use when I retire.”

Cejka started the final round strongly, with four birdies in the first six holes, but did not pick up another stroke the rest of the way, with his lone bogey coming at the par-three 11th.

Grillo, playing on a sponsor exemption, perhaps had most to rue of the playoff losers after missing a short par putt for victory at the 72nd hole.

Saunders, the grandson of the legendary Arnold Palmer, also had cause for regret after missing a makeable birdie putt in the playoff.

Overnight leaders Chris Smith and Scott Brown both shot 73 to finish two strokes off the pace, equal 10th.

Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Frank Pingue/Peter Rutherford

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