Oberholser gets 1st Tour win

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Arron Oberholser was shaky down the stretch yesterday until a big break turned into an unlikely birdie, allowing him to coast the final three holes and win the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, Calif.

Oberholser enjoyed a proud, peaceful walk up the 18th fairway on his way to an even-par 72 and a five-shot victory, matching the largest margin in the 77-year history of the tournament. Sweeter still was capturing his first PGA Tour event on a course he has played since he was a teenager, and a tournament he rarely missed.

But it required plenty of help - first from Mike Weir, then from a tree.

Weir, tied with Oberholser going into the final round, went out of bounds on the second hole and was five shots behind after three holes. The former Masters champion staggered to a 78 and tied for third.

Oberholser's fiercest competition came from within.

"Most guys says the first one is the toughest to win because you've never done it before," Oberholser said.

Oberholser had a six-shot lead with six holes to play, but then he started missing shots left and right. He took bogey from the fairway bunker on the 13th, and flared his second shot on the par-5 14th under a tree in the right rough, having to punch out sideways and escaping with bogey.

Then came his tee shot on the 15th, even farther to the right. It hit the cart path twice and was headed for trouble when it bounced off a tree and kicked back into an opening. With a view of the green, Oberholser hit wedge into 8 feet and turned the mishap into a birdie to restore his margin.

Oberholser finished at 17-under 271, five shots ahead of Rory Sabbatini, who closed with a 70.

For Weir, it was his worst final round as a co-leader since he shot 80 in the PGA Championship playing with Tiger Woods. It fell apart early when Weir hooked his approach on the par-5 second, off the road and out of bounds for a double bogey. He followed that with a wedge over the third green for another bogey, and never got closer than four shots the rest of the way.

Weir said he had mud on his ball on both shots, although ultimately it was his short game.

"My wedge game and putting was what killed me," he said.

Oberholser won in his 76th start on the PGA Tour and became the first player since Matt Gogel in 2002 to make the AT&T; Pebble Beach National Pro-Am his first tour win.

He earned $972,000, but lost a week off.

Oberholser had planned to move into a new house in two weeks, but his victory likely will move him into the top 40 in the world ranking, easily qualifying for the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa.

Australasian/PGA European Johnnie Walker Classic -- Kevin Stadler eagled the final hole for the third straight day, capturing the event in Perth, Australia, with a 3-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over Nick O'Hern. Stadler, the 26-year-old son of 1982 Masters champion Craig Stadler, had a 20-under 268 total on The Vines Resort's Lakes Course.

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