Originally created 02/27/06

Triplett sizzles on back nine to win in Tucson



TUCSON, Ariz. - Kirk Triplett started his final round with five straight birdies and had another four straight on the back nine Sunday, shooting a 63 to reach 22 under and claim his third PGA Tour victory at the Chrysler Classic.

Triplett, who turns 44 next month, was close to missing the cut after opening rounds of 68 and 71 had him 5 under. But he sizzled on the weekend, shooting 17 under in the last two rounds and making a spectacular chip-in on No. 17.

"That won the tournament for me, for sure," said Triplett, who last won at the 2003 Reno-Tahoe Open.

He made the turn at 18 under and raced into the lead with birdies at the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th. It was all but over when his 51-foot chip from the left fringe on No. 17 rolled in.

Triplett bent at the knees as the ball moved closer to the hole, then raised his arms in celebration and cheered along with the gallery.

He won $540,00 from the $3 million purse.

Jerry Kelly shot 65 to finish at 21 under, alone in second place. Duffy Waldorf, the second- and third-round leader who seemed poised for his first victory in six years, shot 72 and tied at 19 under with Bubba Watson (70) and Heath Slocum (68).

Triplett closed with a par on No. 18, then waited to see if Kelly could catch him.

There was a some drama when Kelly's approach on the 18th stopped 10 feet past the pin. But his birdie try pushed just right of the hole, and there would be no playoff in the final edition of Tucson's 60-year-old stroke-play tournament.

Barring a resurrection in future years, Triplett will be the last golfer to hoist the conquistador helmet trophy in Tucson.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem announced earlier Sunday the city will host the Match Play Championship for the next four years.

Triplett played in only 18 events last season because of an elbow injury, missing three months after surgery to repair damaged tendons. His best finish was a tie for ninth at last year's Match Play.

Watson, the long-hitting rookie who used a pink-shafted driver to thrill fans with his booming shots, didn't make bogey all week, but his final round was too cautious and he never threatened.

Waldorf led at 19 under when he made the turn, despite a three-putt bogey on the ninth. He recovered with a nice sand save birdie from just below the hole at No. 10 to reach 20 under but then went stale, making par on the next six holes.

And that's when Kelly and Triplett made their moves.

Kelly sure had a lot of fun, judging from his broad smiles and the way he pointed his finger to coax a 17-foot birdie try on No. 9. When it curled under the hole, he raised his arms in an appeal to laughing fans.

He made an 18-foot putt on the 12th and a 26-footer at the 13th, both birdies, to reach 20 under and tie Waldorf for the lead. He hit an approach to three feet on No. 16, leading to another birdie that put him at 21 under.