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Martin Kaymer beats Bubba Watson in play-off for USPGA

FINAL LEADERBOARD: M Kaymer wins after play-off
-11 B Watson (US), M Kaymer (Ger) -10 Z Johnson (US), R McIlroy (NI) -9 J Dufner (US), S Elkington (Aus), D Johnson (US) -8 C Villegas (Col), W Liang (Chi) Selected others: -6 P Mickelson (US), P Casey (Eng), S Dyson (Eng) -4 S Gallacher (Sco), E Els (SA) -3 S Khan (Eng) -2 T Woods (US) +1 D Clarke (NI), M Laird (Sco) +4 R Davies (Wal) +9 R McGowan (Eng)

Martin Kaymer won the USPGA title at Whistling Straits
Kaymer held his nerve as Watson faltered on the final play-off hole

By Rob Hodgetts

Germany's Martin Kaymer clinched his maiden major title when he beat American Bubba Watson in a play-off for the USPGA at Whistling Straits.

The pair ended tied on 11 under and the 25-year-old Kaymer edged the three-hole play-off by one shot in Wisconsin.

But there was controversy when Dustin Johnson, who missed a putt to win, was then docked two shots for grounding his club in sand on 18 to end nine under.

Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson were 10 under, while Tiger Woods was two under.

Kaymer becomes the third first-time major winner in a row after Louis Oosthuizen won the Open and Graeme McDowell triumphed in the US Open, and the sixth in the last seven majors.

And he becomes only the second German major winner after Bernhard Langer won the Masters in 1985 and 1993.

In the play-off, Kaymer and left-hander Watson exchanged birdies on the first two holes before the American found trouble on the 18th.

He dunked his second shot into a creek short of the green, took a drop and then hit into a bunker beyond the green. Despite nearly chipping in, he ended with a six.

Kaymer, after consulting Scottish caddie Craig Connelly, laid up short with his second before firing to 12ft from where he took two putts to clinch the title and seal his debut on the European Ryder Cup side.

"In the regular round I felt a lot of pressure, especially on the last four or five holes," said Kaymer, who won the fifth of his previous European Tour titles earlier this year. "In the play-off I was very calm and confident. I just thought, 'don't make any stupid mistakes'.

606: DEBATE

"It was an amazing feeling on 18 with two putts to win - that felt pretty cool. I don't realise what has just happened - I just won my first major and I am just on Tour for four years. I have goosebumps."

Watson, who won his maiden PGA Tour title earlier this season, was disappointed but insisted qualifying for his first US Ryder Cup team was some consolation.

"I made the Ryder Cup, so that's all I care about," said Watson.

Dustin Johnson plays his shot among the spectators on the 18th
Johnson grounded his club in sand on the 18th hole

But the finale will be remembered for the controversy that befell Dustin Johnson.

Leading by one going down the last, the 26-year-old carved his tee shot into the crowd on the right, before grounding his club as he addressed his second shot on a patch of trampled sand.

The Whistling Straits course on the shores of Lake Michigan has about 1,200 bunkers, many of which are little more than pieces of sandy waste ground.

But the PGA of America put a notice in the locker room all week to remind players that every patch of sand was to be treated as a bunker regardless of its location, and the rules of golf state that players must not ground their club in a bunker.

Johnson fired through the green but chipped back on to six feet and had a putt to win the title. It was only afterwards that his indiscretion was pointed out.

"It never once crossed my mind I was in a sand trap," said Johnson, who led the US Open by three shots going into the final round at Pebble Beach in June, only to crash to a round of 82.

"The only worse thing that could have happened is if I had made that putt on the final hole.

"I just thought I was on a piece of dirt where the crowd had trampled it down. Obviously I know I can't ground my club in a bunker but I should have looked at the rules sheet a little closer."

One of the rules of golf is that players will incur a two-stroke penalty if they ground their club in a sand or water hazard.

This means they must not allow their clubhead to touch the ground before striking the ball.

Johnson had emerged from the pack with a birdie on 17 after an absorbing final round that saw a host of players sharing the lead at some stage.

American Nick Watney led by three at the start of the day but he quickly fell away and amassed a round of 81, ironically in the final group alongside Johnson.

Bubba Watson
Watson had the consolation of sealing a Ryder Cup spot

Kaymer made a fast start and birdied two of the first four holes to join Watney and Dustin Johnson in the lead on 11 under before stretching out to 12 under after 10 for a two-shot lead over Australia's 47-year-old Steve Elkington, the 1995 USPGA champion.

But in a fascinating back nine, Watson, McIlroy and Elkington all joined Kaymer in the lead at some point until Johnson looked to have snatched control on 17. Kaymer holed a long putt on 18 for a round of 70 to join Watson (68) in the clubhouse on 11 under before Johnson's adventures began on the last.

McIlroy, who was third last year and also came third at the Open last month, set up a host of birdie chances but could not gain any momentum and hit three birdies and three bogeys for a level-par 72.

"It was just a weird day," said the 21-year-old. "I'll take the positives from it. It wasn't the result I wanted, but it's a learning experience."

Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters champion, ended alongside McIlroy after a 70 as namesake (but no relation) Dustin Johnson slipped back to join Elkington (71) and American Jason Dufner (71) at nine under.

Mickelson, the 2005 USPGA winner, surged up the leaderboard with a 67, one of only four men to break 70 all day, to join England's Paul Casey and Simon Dyson on six under.

Masters champion Mickelson needed to finish fourth and hope one of a number of scenarios played out to have a chance of overtaking Woods and ending his 270-week reign as world number one.

"Winning a major makes the year special," said Mickelson. "I was trying to get a little greedy and see if I could get a second one. Unfortunately, I didn't play good enough golf. Had a fun week, though. I really enjoyed my time here."

Woods needed to finish inside the top seven to have a chance of making the US Ryder Cup team automatically but ended in a tie for 28th after a 73.

"I hit the ball so good starting and then I lost it. Nine and 10 hurt quite a bit," he said. And on Ryder Cup selection? "I'd like to make the team but obviously I will have to rely on [captain] Corey Pavin for a pick. I'm going to go home and practice."



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see also
Woods misses Cup qualification
16 Aug 10 |  Golf
USPGA day four photo gallery
15 Aug 10 |  Golf
USPGA day four as it happened
15 Aug 10 |  Golf
McIlroy pursues Watney in USPGA
15 Aug 10 |  Golf
Kuchar on top as McIlroy shines
14 Aug 10 |  Golf
Watson & Molinari set USPGA pace
13 Aug 10 |  Golf


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