Paramus (United States) (AFP) - Hunter Mahan fired a six-under par 65 Sunday to win the US PGA Barclays tournament by two strokes, giving the American his first tour victory in more than two years.
Mahan, who had not taken a title since the 2012 Houston Open, birdied the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to seize a three-stroke lead, then sank a clutch eight-foot bogey putt at 18 to claim the first event in the US tour's season-ending playoffs.
"Haven't played my best this year so to get a win in an event like this and the timing what it was, it feels incredible," Mahan said.
Mahan, who had only a pair of top-five finishes this season before this week, finished 72 holes on 14-under 270 with Australians Jason Day and Stuart Appleby and American Cameron Tringale sharing second on 272.
Four-time major winner Ernie Els was on 273 with Americans William McGirt and Matt Kuchar with Jim Furyk another shot back, his winless streak when leading or co-leading after 54 holes stretching to eight events since he last won any title back at the 2010 Tour Championship.
The event launched the season-ending series of tournaments that reduce fields until 30 players qualify for the Tour Championship finale next month in Atlanta. Mahan now leads the point chase, giving him the best chance at the $10 million bonus for the season points winner.
"I felt great the past few weeks," Mahan said. "The game was starting to come around, making some putts. I knew it was around the corner but to do it today is really incredible."
Mahan was surprised at the 18th green by his wife Kandi and daughter Zoe, who flew to suburban New York on Sunday to see his first win as a father.
"There was a lot going on in my head right then, but it's always great to see them," Mahan said. "They make every day a little bit better."
Mahan opened with a birdie and added another at the fifth, but he made his move on the back nine, with birdies at the 11th and par-5 13th before his key run of three in a row, the last a 25-footer that eased the pressure on 18, where he found trees off the tee and went over the green on his approach only to make a vital putt.
When Day failed to hole out from the rough in the last group just behind him, Mahan had the victory.
- Day, Appleby fall short -
Day endured a second consecutive roller-coaster round to stumble after sharing the 54-hole lead with Furyk.
Day opened with a birdie and birdied the next three odd-numbered holes with bogeys mixed in at four and six. A bogey at 11 was answered by birdies at 13 and 14 but four pars into the clubhouse for a 68 were not enough to overcome Mahan's sizzling finish.
Tringale, who turned himself in for a violation that disqualified him from the PGA Championship earlier this month, birdied 15, 16 and 17 on the way to a 66 but a closing bogey doomed his title bid on his 27th birthday.
"Being my birthday, I was going to have a great day no matter what," Tringale said. "I just played with a peace and a vast understanding. I felt in control of everything."
Appleby birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine to post the score to beat thanks to a closing 65.
"It was nice to get out there and feel comfortable," Appleby said. "It was a great stretch of golf and nice to see more putts drop."