Golf: Maggert chips in to win $1m

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The Independent Online
JEFF MAGGERT won the battle of the journeymen US tour pros, otherwise known as the Andersen Consulting World Matchplay Championship, in a tense encounter that was not decided until the 38th hole. The 24th seed, who beat world No1 Tiger Woods in the quarter-finals, chipped in from 20 feet at the short 11th to beat Andrew Magee.

At times the quality of the golf revealed how the pressure of the occasion was getting to each player. Two of the par-threes in the afternoon were halved in bogey-fours. But birdies from Maggert, who was three down with 16 to play, at the 10th and 13th twice squared the match on the back nine. Five holes in a row were then halved in pars, including the last where Magee missed from 12 feet and Maggert from nine.

"I've been around this game long enough," said Maggert, "to know that if you hang around as long as possible, something good will finally happen and it did when that chip went in. It's been a long time since my last win in '93 but I'm thrilled to death."

Magee admitted: "Jeff's chip at the last was a good way to end it. We both had chances to untie it and both missed some birdie putts but he probably played a little better than I did."

Both men enjoyed their biggest pay day. Maggert had never won $1m (pounds 625,000) in a season, let alone a week. And the runner-up's prize of $500,000 was more than the winner of the concurrent US tour event, the Tucson Open, received. Along with the beaten semi-finalists, John Huston and Steve Pate, who played off for third and fourth places yesterday, the "four guys in caps", as a local paper described them, would not have looked out of place down the leaderboard in Tucson.

That a worldwide audience tuning in for the final of the first in a series of World Golf Championship events were expecting Tiger Woods and David Duval was of no concern to the finalists. Both took a more realistic view than the tournament director, Tom Stipes, who bizarrely declared without a hint of irony that "the greatest two players on earth are left playing".

Maggert, who has been described as "duller than a used range ball", said: "People want to write and read about the Chicago Bulls. They don't want to read about the LA Clippers. That's the way it is in professional sports. It's the superstars who make it such a great game. If it wasn't for Tiger and David and Ernie [Els], our sport wouldn't be what it is and those guys deserve a lot of credit."

Magee, who had to restock his wardrobe at the La Costa pro shop as he had only packed enough clothes for the week of the LA Open and for a couple of days here, added: "We look at Tiger's life and it's difficult. He is chased every week and can't do anything without someone bugging him because of all the press he gets. I enjoy my life. Nobody recognises me when I'm out in my home town of Phoenix."

Before yesterday, the biggest cheque of Magee's career was $270,000 at the 1991 Las Vegas Invitational, one of the 36-year-old's four US tour wins. Maggert, winner of one tournament in 1993, had previously collected a cheque no higher than the $216,000 for finishing second in the Houston Open last year, one of 13 runner-up finishes in his career. Maggert, who was 80-1 to win the event as opposed to Magee's 125-1, beat Woods in the quarter-finals after already dismissing Nick Price and Bernhard Langer. Magee's route to the final included wins over Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn and Shigeki Maruyama.

WORLD MATCH PLAY CHAMPIONSHIP (Carlsbad, California) Final (all US players): J Maggert bt A Magee at 38th hole. Third place play-off: S Pate lost to J Huston 5 and 4. Semi-finals (US unless stated): Maggert bt Pate 1 up; Magee bt Huston 3 and 1.

n Australia's Karrie Webb smashed the US LPGA scoring record on yesterday when she finished 26 under par on 262 to win the Australian Ladies Masters tournament in Gold Coast, Queensland.