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Mark Hensby wins first PGA TOUR Champions title in playoff at Invited Celebrity Classic

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Mark Hensby wins first PGA TOUR Champions title in playoff at Invited Celebrity Classic

Australian captures first PGA TOUR Champions title in extra holes against Charlie Wi

    Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour

    Mark Hensby defeated Charlie Wi on the fourth playoff hole on Sunday to claim the PGA TOUR Champions’ Invited Celebrity Classic at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas.

    It was the first Champions Tour title for Hensby, 51. It came after quite a battle with Wi, also 51, who began the week as the fifth alternate. Each parred the first three playoff holes before Wi hit his second shot in the water on the par-5 18th. The miscue allowed the Australian to play the hole conservatively and win with a par.

    “I didn’t look at the board until 16 and saw I was tied for the lead, and to be honest I thought I wasn’t anywhere near it,” said Hensby, who won once on the PGA TOUR and had two top-three finishes on PGA TOUR Champions this season before Sunday. “I hit the best shot of the day on 18 (a second-shot 3 wood just over the green on the par 5) when I had to because I saw Charlie made birdie.

    “It was an up-and-down day. Six hours, it took a long time to play, pretty slow. I just tried to stay patient.”

    Mark Hensby makes par to win the Invited Celebrity Classic

    For the longest time on Sunday, it appeared no one wanted to win. Second-round leader Alex Cejka went out in 2 over. Hensby, who entered the day one behind, played the front nine in even par. Wi played his first 12 holes in 5 under to seize a three-shot lead, only to blow through it all and then some by going bogey, par, double bogey, bogey with two three-putts.

    Then, finally, Wi, playing in the group ahead of Cejka and Hensby, heroically righted the ship. He rolled in clutch birdie putts on 17 and 18 to go from one behind to take the lead by one at 12 under. So Cejka and Hensby came to 18 knowing they needed to birdie the par 5.

    Cejka laid up on his second shot and couldn’t make a 20-footer to tie. That’s when Hensby hit the shot he referenced, a 3-wood from 270 yards that rolled just through the green. He putted past the hole to 4 feet and made the birdie to force the playoff.

    Wi, a native of South Korea who moved to Los Angeles when he was 10, was naturally disappointed, but his finish automatically earned him entry into the Insperity Invitational, the next event on PGA TOUR Champions.

    “I’ve had five seconds on the PGA TOUR,” said Wi, whose only status on PGA TOUR Champions is from finishing between 55 and 72 in last year’s Charles Schwab Cup rankings. “I really wanted a win. It’s a little disappointing right now … also not having status. A win would have solved a lot of trouble with my schedule and knowing what to do. This Tour is hard to get onto, but I’m glad I played really solid this week.”

    Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo won the title in the celebrity division with 107 points. He shot a final-round, 4-under 67 to beat defending champion Mardy Fish (102) and Annika Sorenstam (101).

    Cejka came in solo third, followed by Q-School medalist Richard Green and veteran Jerry Kelly, who tied for fourth.

    Hensby moved to from eighth to third in the Charles Schwab Cup standings, behind leader David Toms and Steve Stricker.

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