Slocum slays big guns for opening FedEx Cup win

Heath Slocum nailed a 21-foot pressure putt on the 18th to emerge from a list of golfing luminaries led by Tiger Woods and win The Barclays tournament by a single stroke.

Slocum barely qualified to compete in the FedEx Play-offs and the last thing he expected was to be fighting on the final day of the series’ first tournament in New Jersey for the title.

But now he finds himself catapulted from 124 to number three in the FedEx Cup standings and is in with a chance to grab the grand prize of US$10 million.

Slocum shot four-under-par 67 on Sunday for a total of nine-under 275. Tied for second were some of the biggest names in golf – Woods, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker.

Woods and Harrington also closed with 67 while Els fired 66 and Stricker carded a 69. Woods leads the series ahead of Stricker and Slocum.

Slocum only knew he would be in the play-offs last week when he finished 124 in the standings to make the final 125.

Now, he has his biggest pay-cheque ever, $1.35 million and his third PGA Tour title. He said in an AP article:

“It was an incredible day, incredible experience. I was just kind of lucky to come out on top. A lot of good players. At the end of the day, that putt on the last was magical. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”

Woods had previously missed a seven-foot putt on the 18th, continuing his dodgy putting form that extends from the US PGA Championship a fortnight ago when he finished second to South Korean Yang Young-eun.

For Els and Harrington, their top five positions provide another indication that they are returning to form.

Harrington had a tough time of it earlier this year but the 2008 British Open and US PGA Championship winner has shown championship-winning form recently.

Els, a former Open winner, has had an even longer period in the wilderness but said after his performance that his confidence is returning and he is ready to challenge in the big events.

There are three more tournaments in the play-offs, starting with this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, followed by the BMW Championship and, after a one-week break, The Tour Championship.

In Perthshire, Scotland, Peter Hedblom won his first tournament for two years when he captured the Johnnie Walker Championship on the European Tour.

The Swede carded a five-under-par 67 at the Gleneagles course for a total of 13-under-par 275 for a one-stroke victory over compatriot Martin Erlandsson, who set a course record with 62.

France’s Gregory Havret, who shot 67, and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie (69) were tied for third at 278 while another Scot, Gary Orr, was alone on fifth with 279.

Hedblom’s victory, his third on the Tour, makes up slightly for his missed chance at last week’s KLM Open when he was beaten in a play-off by Simon Dyson.

But he needed to be at his best with Erlandsson shooting 10 birdies to hold the lead at one point. Hedblom responded with four consecutive birdies of his own to put his nose in front and keep it there.

His last title was at the 2007 Malaysian Open.

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