Austin birdied the first extra hole to win in a playoff Sunday in Mississippi. (Cox/Getty Images)
By Rusty Hampton, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MADISON, Miss. -- Woody Austin birdied the first playoff hole to beat Cameron Beckman and Daniel Summerhays to win the Sanderson Farms Championship on Sunday at Annandale Golf Club, ending a six-year victory drought for one of golf’s most colorful characters.
Austin, 49, last won in 2007, at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis. He had played in just three PGA TOUR events this season, missing the cut in all three, while concentrating mainly on the Web.com Tour.
“It’s been a long road and a long time,” said Austin. “This is only my fourth event, so I’m really ecstatic. Now I’ve got a job again.”
Austin caught fire on Saturday, shooting a combined 11 under while completing his second round and then firing a 5-under 67 third round in the storm-plagued event.
He kept it going Sunday, hitting 13 of the last 14 greens in regulation on the way to another 67. He, Beckman (67) and Summerhays (69), who led after each of the first three rounds, were tied at 20 under after 72 holes.
Austin, who turns 50 in January, is the eighth-oldest PGA TOUR winner and oldest since Fred Funk won the Mayakoba Golf Classic at age 50 in 2007.
In the playoff, Austin reached the par-5 18th in two shots and two-putted from 85 feet, rolling in an 8-footer for birdie. Summerhays’ second shot of the playoff found water and Beckman missed a 6-foot birdie try after Austin’s make.
“Congrats to Woody,” said Summerhays, 29, who came up just short while playing in the final group for the second straight Sunday. “That was an amazing putt he made. You gotta be kidding me. Forty-nine years old and kicking all of our butts. Hats off to him.”
Austin, who earned 300 FedExCup points and won $540,000, aid it was the “32-year-old version” of himself who showed up at steamy Annandale this weekend. Asked why, he said, “It’s a golf course that I love. Look at the stats, I’ve had four or five top 10s here. And the golf course was different in that it was drier than it has been. Guys weren’t throwing darts at the greens from the rough and anywhere on the course. You have to hit good shots and iron play is my strength and it was there this week.”
Austin also putted well: He ranked 15th for the week with 111 putts, including just 29 Sunday.
Perhaps the biggest was a 15-footer for eagle on the par-5 fifth hole that got his round kick-started. He started the round two shots behind Summerhays and Nicholas Thompson, bogeyed No. 2 and then saw his 10-foot birdie try on No. 3 do a “massive 360” and stare right back at him.
“I started thinking, ‘uh-oh, I’m done,’” said Austin.
But then he eagled No. 5 and birdied Nos. 6 and 7 to get to 18 under and back in the hunt.
From there, he grinded it out, making birdies on 13 and 15. He reached 18 with a one-shot lead and played it conservatively, laying up, while Beckman, his playing partner, reached the green in two and birdied for the tie, forcing the playoff.
Summerhays, in the group behind them, birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to join the playoff.
“It was back and forth,” said Austin. “But I gave myself so many chances over the last three rounds it would have been hard to swallow if I didn’t give myself a chance to win, because I played really, really well.”