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Svoboda wins Chiquita Classic in playoff

DAVIDSON Andrew Svoboda hasn’t had the kind of season he’d like to brag about, missing the cut in more tournaments than he’s made.

But Svoboda is ready to put all those misses behind him, especially after winning the Chiquita Classic on Sunday at River Run Country Club.

Svoboda saw a three-hole lead disappear in the final round, then watched as Will MacKenzie missed a 5-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to win the second event on the PGA Web.com Tour Finals.

The win – his second this season on the PGA’s developmental tour, the first coming last month in Springfield, Mo. – not only gives Svoboda his biggest payday as a pro ($180,000), it puts him in good position to improve his seeding priority after earning one of the 25 PGA Tour cards during the Web.com Tour’s regular season.

That, Svoboda said, more than makes up for missing the cut in 12 of 17 PGA Tour events and five of eight Web.com Tour events this season.

“This has been a big learning year for me, but we came through in the end and pulled out two wins,” said Svoboda, who finished at 12-under 276. “In retrospect, I’ll take a bunch of wins over a bunch of cuts.”

How Svoboda and MacKenzie wound up in the playoff began with two holes left in regulation.

Svoboda, who shared the lead after the third round, was solidly in front heading to the home stretch. He held a three-shot lead over MacKenzie, who was playing three groups ahead.

MacKenzie made a surprising 35-foot chip shot on No.18 for an eagle to pull within a stroke, and Svoboda – who was 6-under over the final four holes the first three rounds – bogeyed No. 17 to even the score.

“I felt like I was kind of out of the tournament and was fighting for second,” MacKenzie said. “I was just trying to make birdie … but it runs right into the pin and goes in. If I hadn’t left the pin in it, it would have gone right past the hole.”

MacKenzie then had to save himself from two bad shots in the playoff played on No. 18, but nearly holed out a 40-foot chip shot for birdie after his third shot overflew the green and went into the spectator area.

Meanwhile, Svoboda nearly ended the playoff with his fourth shot, only to leave a 25-foot birdie putt 2 inches short. He made the tap-in for par, and MacKenzie slid his par putt just right of the hole.

Former Clemson star Ben Martin and third-round co-leader John Peterson finished tied for third at 277, with Japan’s Ryo Ishikawa – who tied for the day’s best round at 6-under 66 – one back at 278.

Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @Bkiser_CLTObs
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