IRVING, Texas — Adam Scott felt he needed to make a statement by winning Sunday. He did, though, not quite the way he wanted to do it.
After blowing the three-stroke lead he carried into the final round, Scott made a 9-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to force a playoff, then made a 48-footer playing it again on the third playoff hole to beat Ryan Moore in the EDS Byron Nelson Championship.
“In the end, I think (the statement) was to myself, I could actually win it when things weren’t going my way,” Scott said. “But it wasn’t quite the statement I had in mind. I would have liked to have gone out there and have played like Ryan played and won by a few.”
Still, Scott made the clutch shots when he needed them for his sixth PGA Tour victory after cutting short his post-Masters trip home to Australia so not to waste his good play there.
Playing the 18th hole for the third time in less than an hour, the second time in the playoff, Scott hit his tee shot into a fairway bunker to the right. But he got his approach to the front of the green, then rolled the putt over two ridges and into the cup.
“I got away with one today,” said Scott, at No. 10 in the world the highest-ranked player in the Nelson field. “A bit lucky.”
Moore still had a chance to force another hole, but his pin-high putt from the fringe skimmed just past the cup.
“I’m just a little frustrated I didn’t make mine,” said Moore, who closed with a 2-under 68 to match Scott (71) at 7-under 273.
The playoff was a fitting end after a back-and-forth Sunday duel between Scott and Moore, who finished four shots ahead of Bart Bryant (72). Nicholas Thompson (67), Mark Hensby (69) and Carl Pettersson (69) tied for fourth at 2 under.
It was the fourth career runner-up finish for Moore, the first player since Tiger Woods to skip Q-school and go straight from college to the PGA Tour. Woods got his first victory in his seventh start as a pro, while Moore is still looking for his first after 70 tournaments since 2005, after he was a four-time All-American at UNLV.
“A loss is a loss, but I tied for first at the end of the day,” said Moore, who had never been in a playoff. “I was just proud of myself for battling around on a tough day in tough conditions.”’
Playing conditions at the redesigned TPC Four Seasons changed drastically again after rain overnight combined with blustery conditions Sunday. It was an unseasonable cool day with temperatures barely reaching 60 degrees, with wind gusting to 30 mph making it feel cooler — and making club selection harder.
The winning score was the highest since the Nelson moved to the Las Colinas venue in 1983. Only three other times had a winner failed to finish at least 10-under par, and two of those were in rain-shortened tournaments.
The playoff started with both players making pars, first at No. 18 and then at the TPC Four Seasons’ signature par 3, the 198-yard 17th hole, where Moore had taken a one-stroke lead in regulation by curling in a 12-foot birdie putt.
Scott, who earned $1,152,000, missed opportunities to win on each of the first two playoff holes, leaving makable birdie putts short both times.
Moore’s tee shot to start the playoff went way right into the gallery, but he made a great save to the green and was able to two-putt for par.
When they were back to 17, Scott went for the flag tucked in the right front of the green beyond the lake, and landed the ball about 10 feet from the cup. Moore was well left off the fringe, near the same area where Scott was in regulation, but both two-putted, sending them to 18 again.
Moore played for only the third time in 10 weeks, having taken some extra time off this spring instead of continuing to play through the pain of a sore shoulder and surgically repaired left hand still bothering him two years later. He opened with a 67 for a share of the lead.
“After this week, I’m looking forward to the rest of the season,” Moore said.
It was the 16th playoff at the Nelson since 1968, more than any other tournament on the PGA Tour. The last was in 2004, when Sergio Garcia beat Robert Damron and Dudley Hart on the first extra hole.
At the start of the day, Scott stuffed both hands in his pockets walking down the No. 1 fairway after pushing his opening tee shot way right into trampled grass, but he managed to salvage a bogey after a nice approach short of the green. He was steady until he got to the 174-yard fifth hole, where he hit his tee shot fat and into the water. That double bogey shrunk his lead over Moore from three shots to one.
After Scott and Moore both birdied the par-5 seventh, Moore got even at 6 under with a 6-foot birdie putt on the 461-yard eighth.
Moore went ahead with a 7-foot birdie at the 10th hole, and maintained that lead until consecutive bogeys. His tee shot at the 180-yard 13th went into a greenside bunker and he couldn’t make the 10-foot par putt, then his approach at No. 14 went into another bunker behind the green that put Scott up by one.
But Scott, who had a 7-foot birdie attempt at No. 11 stop one roll short of dropping into the cup, hit his first two shots at No. 15 into the rough and wound up with bogey.
“I will probably take away more from gutting it out than winning by five,” Scott said. “I needed to go and close this thing out, and it was tough. … It would have been a tough defeat.”