Mattice Battles Back to Win St. Jude

Sunday, June 30th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Len Mattiace won for the second time this year as he rallied from a seven-stroke deficit at the start of the final round by shooting a 7-under 64 Sunday to win the St. Jude Classic by a stroke.

Mattiace, who won the Nissan Open in February, joined Tiger Woods (three) and Phil Mickelson (two) as the only multiple winners on tour this year.

He had a mistake-free day in a round where Glen Hnatiuk, looking for his first victory, blew a four-stroke lead. Mattiace turned in a bogey-free seven-birdie round that included five on the back nine and three consecutive on Nos. 15-17 for an 18-under 266 total and the $684,000 winner's check.

Tim Petrovic had a chance to force a playoff with a 35-footer for birdie on No. 18, but he missed just left for a 68 and finished second.

Notah Begay had a share of the lead for a hole but shot a 69 and finished third at 16 under. David Toms (68) was fourth, David Howser, who got into the tournament on a sponsor's exemption, shot a 64 and tied for fifth with Jim Carter (68), Tripp Isenhour (68) and Matt Kuchar (71).

Hnatiuk had been trying to become the 10th first-time winner on tour this year. But he had never led a tournament before this week, and struggled with a 77 that included five bogeys, a double bogey and two birdies. He wound up tied for 14th.

Mattiace had no such problems.

He had two birdies on the front nine and turned at 13 under. He got his birdie streak going as he strung together birdies on Nos. 11 and 12. He then birdied Nos. 15-17 that gave him a share of the lead first with Hnatiuk, then Begay, and finally took it himself at the tournament, which is sponsored by FedEx.

Begay had his chance when he tied Mattiace at 16 under with a birdie on the par-3 14th.

He promptly gave a stroke back on the next hole when he followed a poor tee shot by putting his approach into the lap of a fan sitting behind the green at the par-4 15th. Begay took a drop that landed near an asphalt path, chipped back across the green and his chip to save par just missed along the right edge for bogey.

Mattiace birdied the par-5 16th and took the lead to himself at 17 under. His birdie putt on No. 17 put him 18 under, and he just missed a birdie putt left on No. 18. He tapped in for par and waited with his family, then hit a few balls on the practice range.

Petrovic had his chances with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16. He left an eagle putt short on the par-5 16th, and just missed forcing the playoff on No. 18.