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Golf-Varner snatches Saudi International win with late heroics – Metro US

Golf-Varner snatches Saudi International win with late heroics

FILE PHOTO: PGA: The American Express – First Round
FILE PHOTO: PGA: The American Express – First Round

(Reuters) -Harold Varner III made a stunning eagle on the final hole to hold off an inspired Bubba Watson and claim a one-stroke victory at the Saudi International on Sunday.

In an extraordinary finale, Varner needed a birdie on the par-five 18th to force a playoff against twice Masters winner Watson, who had finished his sparkling round of six-under 64 with a fine eagle.

Instead, the 31-year-old American snatched an outright win as he sank an eagle putt from around 100 feet out for his second career title, in a dramatic scene at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club near Jeddah.

Varner carded a one-under 69 to finish at 13 under for the tournament, one ahead of Watson and three shots clear of Spaniard Adri Arnaus, who started the final day one stroke back.

“It’s been pretty crazy since it happened. I’m just trying to take it in. Winning just never gets old. I just know that there’s been times where it just didn’t go my way and today it did,” Varner, who took home a $1 million cheque, told reporters.

“(The eagle putt) was awesome. Obviously that it went in kind of helped. When I was coming down the hill, I for sure – worst case scenario, we’ll go to a playoff and I’d get him there. And then it went in, and emotions came out.”

Watson was in imperious form as he made five birdies on the front nine and looked set to leapfrog Varner before a double bogey on the 11th halted his charge. Varner, though, could not take advantage as he dropped two shots on the 14th, setting up a tense finish.

“(There was) less wind today. And then I knew it was going to be a battle. So I told myself if I could somehow shoot – I made a double bogey on 11 – one-under the rest of the way, the last seven holes would get me probably a top five,” said Watson.

“I made the eagle (on the 18th), and I looked up and saw I had a two-shot lead. Then I thought I had a great chance, but obviously he pulled out a shot better than me to win. So it was a crazy back nine and a fun back nine.”

Defending champion Dustin Johnson shot an even-par 70 to finish tied for eighth alongside Briton Tommy Fleetwood, who endured a difficult day with a three-over 73.

(Reporting by Dhruv Munjal in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon and Hugh Lawson)

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