Franco repeats New Orleans win in playoff

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The Independent Online

Carlos Franco of Paraguay defeated a heartbroken Blaine McCallister on the second playoff hole Sunday to successfully defend his title at the $3.4 million New Orleans Classic golf tournament.

Franco parred the 16th hole in the sudden-death playoff to win his third career title and claim the $612,000 first prize.

McCallister bogeyed the 72nd hole to fall into a tie with Franco, then did it again on the first playoff hole before suffering through a disastrous series of shots on the 16th.

The 41-year-old McCallister, the reigning Qualifying School medalist, was seeking his first title in seven years but settled for the $367,200 second-prize check.

McCallister's wife, Claudia, was on hand to share in the heartbreak. She is legally blind and can see her husband in action only through binoculars from 30-40 feet (9 to 12 meters).

That was the distance McCallister needed to two-putt on the first playoff hole, but he left his first putt eight feet short and missed the par putt.

At No. 16, McCallister drove into a fairway bunker, then found a trap in front of the green with his next shot before his blast rolled up and down the fringe into the same bunker.

Franco narrowly missed a bunker with his tee shot but ended up safely in the fairway. His approach landed in the same bunker as McCallister, but his blast rolled within three feet of the cup, setting up the winning par putt.

Harrison Frazar also left disappointed after relinquishing a one-shot lead with a bogey at the 17th hole that left him third after a runner-up showing here last year.

Franco, the 1999 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, carded a four-under-par 68 on Sunday to reach 18-under 270, one stroke short of last year's winning total at the English Turn Golf and Country Club.

Frazar finished a shot behind Franco and McCallister at 271, with Stephen Ames of Trinidad and Steve Stricker tying for fourth at 272.

Bob Burns, Kirk Triplett and Steve Flesch were sixth at 273, with Scott Hoch and