Bae bounces back in USPGA season opener

Bae bounces back in USPGA season opener

NAPA, CALIFORNIA - South Korea's Bae Sang Moon has won the first tournament of the new United States PGA Tour season.

The 28-year-old from Daegu fired a final-round 73 to hold on for victory in the US$6 million (S$7.6 million) Open on Sunday.

Bae, who took a four-shot lead into the fourth round, finished with a 15-under total of 273 and a two-stroke victory over Australian Steven Bowditch to earn US$1.08 million.

"I tried to really enjoy my game, but I made a lot of bogeys," said Bae, adding that despite his four bogeys and three birdies in a one-over effort, "it was a really good experience".

Bowditch charged up the leaderboard with a five-under 67 for 275. Scotland's Martin Laird, who led after the second round, closed with a 71 to head a group on 12-under 276. He was joined by Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (70), South African Retief Goosen (70) and Americans Bryce Molder (68) and Hunter Mahan (70).

The tournament at Silverado Country Club's North Course was the first stop on the USPGA Tour's 2014-15 season.

Bae was making his first start in the event and added the title to the Byron Nelson Championship crown he won last year. He had not managed a top-10 finish on the US tour since that victory, although he has 12 international wins.

Bae's last two bogeys, at the 13th and 14th holes, saw his lead dwindle to two strokes over Bowditch, but he scrambled to pars on the final four holes to secure the win.

"I was a little nervous," Bae said of his emotions down the stretch. "This course wasn't easy, honestly. I know how well I did. I'm very, very happy."

He said he hoped that this latest success would be the first of many.

"After the first win, I didn't play well last year," he added. "I was very frustrated, very anxious and nervous. But now I've got the second one, I think third and fourth will come easy since I have the confidence."

He said he hoped to earn a spot on the International team for the Presidents Cup to be played in his homeland next year, and wants to represent South Korea when golf returns to the Olympic programme in 2016.

The tournament saw Australian Jarrod Lyle return to action for the first time on the US Tour since twice receiving treatment for leukaemia.

After qualifying on Monday to play, he made the cut and finished tied for 31st, and called his week a "huge success".

"It's something to build on for the rest of the year," said Lyle.

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