CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) – Brad Faxon rolled in a 3-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday to win the Buick Championship over South African Tjaart van der Walt, his first victory since 2001.

Faxon tied the course record in regulation with a 9-under 61, a personal best for the 44-year-old. He charged from the middle of the pack starting at 5 under to play himself in contention, overtaking third-round leader Justin Rose over the closing holes.

Faxon, who made the 36-hole cut on the number, stayed close to home for his eighth PGA Tour victory, earning a $774,000 paycheck. The Rhode Islander has been a mainstay at this New England tournament, appearing 22 times. His best finish had been an eighth in 1996.

Faxon’s best finish this year was a tie for third at the Barclays Classic.

Van der Walt shot a 64 Sunday and birdied the final two holes to tie Faxon at 14-under 266 and force a playoff back to the 434-yard par-4 18th.

Faxon drove into the left fairway bunker and had 169 yards to the hole and stuck his 7-iron approach 3 feet from the cup. Van der Walt, unflappable all week at the TPC at River Highlands, drove it right down the middle to within 134 yards. His approached banged off the flagstick and rolled just over nine feet from the cup. The players high-fived each other as they walked up the 18th fairway to an ovation.

Van der Walt pushed his birdie putt right then stood back and watched as Faxon coolly rolled his in for the win.

Rose (69) began the day with a four-stroke lead at 12 under, but never made a move until late in the day. He birdied two of the last four holes to finish one stroke out of the playoff.

Former British Open winner Ben Curtis (69), Jerry Kelly (77) and NCAA runner-up Michael Putnam (63) finished in a tie for fourth at 12 under. Putnam had been at Merion last week for the U.S. Amateur when he was told he received a sponsor’s exemption to the Buick Championship. He decided to turn pro and earned $177,733 in his PGA Tour debut.

AP-ES-08-28-05 1822EDT


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