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O'Hair takes Quail Hollow by one stroke

FIVE weeks after he blew a five-shot lead against Tiger Woods at Bay Hill, Sean O'Hair showed his mettle in hard, blustery conditions on Sunday with a 3-under 69 and rallied to win the Quail Hollow Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, when no one could catch him.

Despite a bogey-bogey finish on the two hardest holes on the course, O'Hair was the only player in the final nine groups to break 70.

He took the lead on the 15th with a two-putt birdie from 70 feet, then holed an 7-foot birdie on the 16th to give him room for error on the frightening finishing holes.

O'Hair was on the putting green when Lucas Glover failed to make birdie from behind the 18th green that would have forced a playoff. Glover, who bogeyed the par-3 17th from right of the green, closed with a 71 and tied for second with Bubba Watson, who had a 70.

Eagle putt

Woods struggled with his game throughout the final round, but he still had a chance to tie for the lead when he drove the par-4 14th green and had an eagle putt from just inside 25 feet.

He three-putted for par, failed to birdie the par-5 15th and closing with 10 consecutive pars left him two shots behind with a 72.

Woods hung around long enough to congratulate O'Hair, who was holding 4-year-old daughter Molly.

"It was cool that he came up and did that," O'Hair said.

O'Hair has a history of not folding. He was driven by a relentless father and forced to turn pro when he was 16, still a junior in high school. He managed to break away, got married, and he and wife Jackie traveled the mini-tours in a 40-foot bus, sometimes unable to play because they didn't have money for the entry fee, often playing for their next meal.

"Losing (stunk) at Bay Hill," O'Hair said. "Even though it's tough to lose like that, to lose a five-shot lead against Tiger, you still learn from it. I talked to my coach. I talked to my caddie, Paul (Tesori). And we just all said all I have to do is keep putting myself in those situations, and at some point I'm going to learn how to win. It's just nice to win as quickly as I did after Bay Hill."

Even with a shaky swing, Woods' presence loomed at Quail Hollow. He spun back a delicate pitch shot to tap-in range for birdie on the eighth hole to get within one shot of the lead at the time, and appeared to be hitting his stride.

Instead, he hit it into the trees on the par-5 10th, eliminating a good chance at birdie. And he kept coming up well short of the pin, unable to produce the right trajectory for the wind.

But nothing stung worse than the 14th, with fans waving white towels at the sight of his ball tumbling down the fairway and stopping just inside 25 feet from the cup for a chance at eagle, with a par 5 awaiting on the next hole.


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