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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 04:18 GMT
Willis comes of age in Tucson
Tucson Open winner Garrett Willis
Willis was calm while more experienced players folded
Garrett Willis, a 26-year-old Tour rookie, shot a cool closing 69 to win the weather-delayed Tucson Open by a stroke over Kevin Sutherland in Arizona on Monday.

Willis compiled a four-round total of 273, 15 under par. Sutherland, whose last round was a 68, finished a shot behind at 274.

Former Tucson Open runner-up Bob Tway and Australian Geoff Ogilvy tied for third at 275.

The victory was worth $540,000 for Willis, whose caddie carried his clubs in a University of Tennessee bag, since Willis has no bag sponsor.

Tour School

Third-round leader Mark Wiebe, who started the day at 15 under, shot a 74 and wound up tied for fifth with K.J. Choi, Greg Kraft and Cliff Kresge at 276.

"This is well beyond my means," a delighted Willis said.

"I was going to Tour School a month ago, not knowing where I'd be playing, and now this."

The $540,000 first prize represents more than seven times what Willis earned last year, when he finished 68th on the money list.

Waning Wiebe

Playing in only his fourth Tour event, Willis got off to a shaky start, bunkering his tee shot on the first hole, advancing it only 20 yards out of the bunker, then leaving himself a 40-foot par putt, which he made.

With that reprieve, he promptly knocked his tee shot out of bounds on the second hole, but did a little scrambling to save a bogey on the par 5.

But the birdies soon started to come for Willis, while overnight leader Wiebe started to struggle on the back nine.

With Wiebe fading, Sutherland started to threaten. He birdied 13, 15 and 16 to get to 14 under par.

Intimidating final hole

He had a six-foot birdie putt at the par-three 17th, but pulled it to the left.

He parred the tough 18th, leaving Willis with a one-shot lead.

Willis also missed a short birdie putt at 17 and had only a one-shot cushion as he stood on the tee of the intimidating 18th.

He wound up with a six-footer below the hole to win, and he coolly stroked it into the centre of the cup.

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12 Jan 01 |  Golf
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