PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) – Retief Goosen took an important step toward rejoining the elite in golf Sunday by closing with a 1-under 70 for a one-shot victory in the Transitions Championship, his first PGA Tour win in nearly four years.

Goosen had a two-shot lead with three holes to play on the demanding Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, when just like everyone else, he struggled to hang on. The two-time U.S. Open champion barely made it.

Needing only two putts from 25 feet for the win, he watched his first putt roll 5 feet past the hole. His par putt curled in the side of the cup, giving him a one-shot victory over Charles Howell III and Brett Quigley.

Howell, an Augusta, Ga., native who has to win over the next two weeks to earn a trip to the Masters, made bogeys on the 15th and 16th holes, and couldn’t find any birdies to catch up. He shot a 69 for his best finish since winning at Riviera two years ago.

Quigley is now 0-for-342 in his 13 years on the PGA Tour, but he was bogey-free on the back nine and closed with a 68 for his second runner-up finish in as many weeks.

Former Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman, trying to become the seventh player in his 50s to win on the PGA Tour, did not make a birdie until a long putt on the 17th hole, and he shot a 75 to tie for eighth.

Goosen, a 40-year-old South African who was part of the “Big Three” in the world ranking three years ago, nearly fell out of the top 50 until he overcame some problems with corrective eye surgery and worked hard on his fitness, dropping some 20 pounds.

He won twice on the South African and Asian tours during the fall, but this was a big breakthrough – especially with the Masters coming up.

Goosen finished at 8-under 276 and won for the seventh time on the PGA Tour. It was his second victory at Innisbrook, having won in 2003 when it was played in the fall.

This looked more like June with greens so crusty and firm that the grass began dying on the weekend and some shots were difficult to hold. It was similar to Shinnecock Hills, where Goosen won his second U.S. Open in 2004.

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