Sweden’s Chopra captures PGA opener

Sweden's Daniel Chopra won the season-opening PGA Mercedes-Benz Championship at Kapalua, Hawaii, with a birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to edge American Steve Stricker.

Chopra and Stricker both finished at 18-under-par 274 Sunday before the Swede hit a tap-in birdie on the fourth playoff hole for his second career PGA Tour victory.

Chopra posted a seven-under 66 while Stricker shot a sizzling nine-under 64 to earn a spot in the playoff.

Stephen Ames shot 66 to finish third at 17-under and his Canadian compatriot Mike Weir, who entered the final round with a one-shot lead, finished fourth at 16-under 276 after a 70.

Chopra, who was ranked 130th in the world coming into the Mercedes, picked up 1.1 million dollars and a Mercedes-Benz sports car for the win. His win also earned got him a trip to the Masters.

“I got a golf course today that was just right up my alley,” Chopra said.

“This one was just built for me. It was an unbelievable day, really. I felt very comfortable all week, really. I guess the win made me more comfortable.”

Chopra could have wrapped up the win on a few occasions before he actually did, but he could not make a birdie at 18 when he really needed one.

He had a 12-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to win, but it stopped just short of the cup. The playoff started back at 18 and Chopra left his eagle putt almost eight feet short and he burned the edge to the right.

“I was nearly positive I was going to make it,” Chopra said.

“Those putts, the first one in the playoff, I thought I hit a beauty. I hit the ball to the left. We were positive mine was going to go that way, too. And it just hung up on that high side.”

Stricker had not birdied 18 all week but he finally did to close his final round on Sunday and get to 18-under. Now tied for the lead, Chopra made a three-footer for par at 17 and parred 18 to force a playoff.

“This is definitely a good start for the season, a little bittersweet again today where I played a great round and ended up with some opportunities in regulation to make a couple more birdies coming down the stretch, hit good putts, but I can’t be disappointed,” Stricker said.