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Johnson retains Texas crown

ZACH Johnson of the United States rolled in a 12-foot birdie-putt to win the first sudden-death playoff hole against compatriot James Driscoll, and successfully defend his Texas Open title in San Antonio on Sunday.

Johnson, tied with Driscoll on 265 after 72 holes at LaCantera Golf Club's Resort Course, set up the win with a six-iron approach from 166 yards into the wind on the 18th green.

Driscoll missed a birdie putt after landing his approach 25 feet from the cup to surrender the tournament and a US$1 million purse to 2007 US Masters champion Johnson.

"Down the stretch there, I hit quality shots the last three holes," Johnson told reporters. "Really good shots. And when you're in contention, all I want to do is trust your numbers and trust your clubs, and I did that."

Early starter Driscoll fired an eight-under 62 in the final round and waited about two hours to find himself in a playoff against Johnson, who shot 70.

Johnson had a chance to win in regulation but his birdie putt from about the same distance as the winner came up short.

"I really didn't show it on my scorecard, but my execution was really, really good, and for that, I'm proud," said Johnson, who fired a brilliant 10-under-par 60 in Saturday's weather-interrupted third round.

A stroke shy of joining the playoff were Americans Bill Haas and Paul Goydos, who led the field by one stroke through 70 holes before collapsing with a bogey-bogey finish.

Another shot adrift at 13-under were Briton Brian Davis, Australian Marc Leishman, Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden and three-time Texas Open winner Justin Leonard.

The 31-year-old Driscoll, who has battled his way onto the US Tour, is still looking for his first win after firing six birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round on Sunday.

Johnson's victories came seven months apart as last year's tournament was held in October. It was his second triumph for 2009 after winning the Sony Open in Hawaii.

In Baltray, Irishman Shane Lowry became the third amateur to win a European Tour event on Sunday by clinching the Irish Open on a playoff.

Lowry, 22, beat British professional Robert Rock at the third extra hole of a sudden-death playoff after both finished on 17-under 271, two strokes better than Swede Johan Edfors.

After missing a birdie putt inside four feet on the final hole to win the tournament without the shootout, Lowry defeated Rock, who had to settle for his second runner-up spot in successive weeks.

While Lowry can savor a two-year exemption when he decides to turn professional, Rock's consolation was to pocket the US$665,000 first prize.

Lowry, Rock and Edfors, the only European Tour title-holder in the trio, became the only realistic winners on the final day but Edfors, who started the final day two shots off the lead, faded after the turn to also card a 71.


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