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Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year's Invitational in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Cold and windy conditions didn't affect Hayden Buckley last year when he won the New Year's Invitational, and they didn't affect him again this year in the 92nd edition of the event.

The University of Missouri senior repeated as champion at St. Petersburg Country Club when he birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat Shore­crest Prep alumnus and current Florida State sophomore Greyson Porter.

Buckley shot a final-round 4-under 68 to tie Porter, who shot 2-under 70. Both finished with a four-round 2-under 286.

On the first playoff hole, the par-4 No. 1, Porter left his 20-foot birdie putt short, and Buckley made his 20-footer to claim the trophy.

Buckley and Porter were the only golfers in the 115 player field to break par. Cold, raw conditions were the norm for all four rounds.

"It was tough for everybody,'' said Buckley, 21, of Belden, Miss. "Things just clicked for me. I was able to stay steady. I made more birdies than bogeys, and I was able to make a birdie on the last hole, which was big.''

Both players had to come from behind to contend. Cristian DiMarco led by two shots to start the final round, but the USF senior finished with 4-over 76.

Porter built a two-shot lead over Buckley on the back nine. On the 15th hole, Buckley cut the lead to one when he chipped in for birdie; Porter drained a long par putt to save the lead.

It stayed that way until the par-5 18th. Buckley's second shot came up 10 yards short of the green. Porter's second sailed pin high to the right of the green. Buckley chipped to within 6 inches while Porter left his chip 40 feet short. Porter parred and Buckley birdied to force the playoff.

"I didn't look at the scoreboard much,'' Buckley said. "I just wanted to keep myself in it. Sometimes it turns out, and sometimes it doesn't. I've been on the other end of these things as well.''

Missouri senior uses playoff birdie to win New Year's Invitational in St. Petersburg 01/07/18 [Last modified: Sunday, January 7, 2018 10:07pm]
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