Hart finishes in style

 

Dudley Hart birdied the final four holes and watched his major rivals falter at the finish to win in Florida. It is his first tour title in four years. Hart's deadly approach shots set up short putts as he went six-under par on the final 10 holes in firing a final-round seven-under par 65 to finish at 19-under par 269, one stroke ahead of J P Hayes and Kevin Wentworth.

Brian Gay, who bogeyed the final hole, would also have been in the second-place group had a time penalty not been handed out to him after what had appeared to be a birdie on the 17th hole.

Gay had a 30-foot birdie putt from the fringe to match Hart at 19-under. The ball rolled to the edge of the cup and halted. Gay walked to the ball, indicated it was moving and as he walked to it watched the ball fall.

Gay, who never before had managed a top-10 PGA finish, sent his drive on the 18th hole through a bunker into rough and had a 75-foot two-putt for par.

He left the first putt 20 feet short and the second faded right, giving Gay his first bogey in 37 holes at the worst possible moment.

The bogey saved PGA officials from deciding the outcome. Even as Gay stood over the shot, officials were reviewing videotape that showed he had waited longer than the 10-second maximum for the ball to drop before it did.

That meant a one-stroke penalty and a par rather than a birdie on the 17th hole. A span of two seconds cost Gay approximately £60,000 as he fell into a share of fourth place and left Hart the champion.