(Reuters) - Adam Scott maintained ice-cool composure over the tough closing stretch at the Honda Classic to end a title drought of nearly two years on Sunday, clinching his 12th PGA Tour victory by one shot at Palm Beach Gardens in Florida.
The Australian world number 13 outduelled his Spanish playing competitor Sergio Garcia as he carded a level-par 70 in the final round in blustery conditions on the challenging PGA National layout.
Tied for the lead with Garcia with eight holes to play, Scott played steadier golf down the stretch to post a nine-under total of 271 as the Spaniard’s game unraveled.
“I got off to a good start, made one (for birdie) on the first and that definitely relaxed me,” Scott, 35, told NBC Sports after winning his first tournament since the PGA Tour’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial in May of 2014.
”I hit a lot of good putts. Some didn’t go in, fortunately it was enough in the end. Things got tough out there at times but that’s expected too. It’s such a tough track and the wind was slightly different.
“It’s hard to get it close all the time,” said the Australian, who made his third and final birdie of the day at the 12th after hitting a superb 150-yard approach from a fairway bunker to just two feet.
“But it was nice to hit some quality shots coming in.”
Scott’s 12th PGA Tour victory put him one ahead of Rory McIlroy at the top of the list of most wins recorded by current tour players aged under 40.
Garcia, 36, who had been bidding for a ninth PGA Tour title, had to settle for second place after bogeying the 16th and 17th holes, before rebounding with a birdie at the last for a 71.
”It was tough,“ said the Spaniard, who had been tied for the lead with Scott after the third round but failed to make early inroads on Sunday as he parred the first 10 holes. ”A really difficult golf course but he deserved it.
”I am proud of the way I hung in there. I don’t feel like my swing is anywhere near where I want it to be but I scored nicely, I putted well, I chipped quite well. I felt like I stayed quite calm.
“I gave it my all but unfortunately a couple of bad shots on a couple of difficult holes (16 and 17) and I just wasn’t good enough.”
Blayne Barber, a rookie on the PGA Tour last season, closed with a 70 to tie for third at five under with fellow American Justin Thomas (69).
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Andrew Both