Originally created 02/27/06

Canadian Rutledge wins New Zealand PGA



CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Canadian Jim Rutledge won the New Zealand PGA Championship on Sunday, overcoming a nine-stroke deficit with an 8-under 64 en route to a one-stroke victory over Australians Brett Rumford and Jarrod Lyle.

The 46-year-old Rutledge had an eagle-birdie finish for a 9-under 279 total on the Clearwater course in the event co-sanctioned by the Nationwide and Australasian tours.

Rutledge began the round tied for 25th at 1 under after rounds of 75, 68 and 72. He earned $113,684 for his first victory in five seasons on the Nationwide Tour.

"I've worked hard and I knew I had a good one in me this week. It was just a matter of finally getting it all together," Rutledge said.

The Canadian holed a 111-yard shot for eagle on the par-4 17th and capped his bogey-free round with a 25-foot birdie putt on No. 18.

"I had a sand wedge, which was the perfect club for me, a little bit down wind left to right," Rutledge said about his eagle. I just tried to hit it in the middle of the green and spin it to the hole."

He followed with a perfect putt on No. 18.

"That green is pretty fast from right to left, so I figured that if I could just get it rolling on the right line, hopefully, it wasn't going to go too far by," Rutledge said. "I had a good line on it and really good weight."

Rumford finished with a 72, and Lyle - the third-round leader - closed with a 74. Rumford missed an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 18, and Lyle bogeyed the hole.

The Nationwide Tour will open U.S. play March 23-26 with the Louisiana Open.