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Kelly ends seven-year title drought

JERRY Kelly took advantage of a stumbling finish by fellow American Charles Howell III to clinch his third PGA Tour victory by one shot at the Zurich Classic in Avondale, Louisiana, on Sunday.

Three strokes clear overnight, Kelly recovered from a nervy start in blustery conditions to card a one-under par 71 at the TPC Louisiana, ending a title drought of seven years on the US circuit.

The 42-year-old covered the last eight holes in two under for a 14-under total of 274, finishing ahead of Howell (68), South African Rory Sabbatini (67) and South Korean Charlie Wi (68).

Howell, bidding for a third PGA Tour title, squandered a two-shot lead after 11 holes with bogeys on 15 and 17.

"I don't know what to say," Howell, 29, said. "I got myself to 15 (under), I got into a position to do it.

"I hit a lot of good shots today and I played a lot of good holes. I just wished I could have finished it a little better."

Kelly, winless on the PGA Tour since his 2002 Western Open triumph, surrendered his overnight lead when his fast-starting compatriot Howell rolled in a 13-footer at the par-four sixth to collect his fourth birdie of the round.

Although Kelly briefly edged ahead at the fifth, where he struck a superb approach to a couple of inches, Howell rammed in a 24-birdie putt on the ninth green to again draw level.

Kelly then bogeyed the eighth after finding a bunker off the tee and missing an 11-foot par putt to drop back into second place at 13-under.

Howell, who had raced to the turn in a sizzling five-under 31, also birdied the par-five 11th after reaching the green in two and two-putting to move two strokes clear at 15 under.

However, he ran up his first bogey in 22 holes at the par-four 15th, after driving into a fairway bunker, for his lead to be trimmed to one.

Moments later, he was joined at 14 under by Kelly who struck his tee shot to eight feet at the par-three 14th and calmly knocked in the putt.

Howell, whose most recent PGA Tour victory came at the 2007 Los Angeles Open, also stumbled at the par-three 17th where he three-putted from 40 feet.

Kelly coolly parred the last four holes to stay a stroke in front of his closest challengers, celebrating his return to the winner's circle with a fist pump on the 18th green.


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