Durant Celebrates PGA Win With Mickey

Monday, October 23rd 2006, 8:58 am
By: News On 6

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) _ Joe Durant's latest PGA Tour title was memorable for his entire family. Durant spent the last 10 days at Disney World, visiting every theme park with his wife and two children. They got to see Mickey Mouse up close Sunday, when the famed character presented Durant with the Funai Classic trophy.

The kids were delighted. Dad may have been even more ecstatic after ending a five-year winless streak on tour.

Durant shot a bogey-free 7-under 65 in the final round at Disney, finished 25 under and picked up his first tour victory since March 2001. He showed he hadn't forgotten how to win, either.

``I knew the kind of round you needed to play on the last day to win, especially when the scores are low, and I was fortunate to do that,'' he said.

Durant beat rookie Troy Matteson (70) and Frank Lickliter II (62) by four strokes. First- and second-round leader Justin Rose (69) was fourth at 20 under.

The 42-year-old Durant played mistake-free golf down the stretch for his fourth career victory.

He started the day one shot behind third-round leader Matteson and dropped another stroke back after the first hole on the Magnolia Course. But Durant made up ground with smart decisions, a steady short game and several clutch putts.

``He didn't make many mistakes,'' said Matteson, who played in the final pairing with Durant. ``He was very machinelike.''

Durant made a 13-footer from the fringe on the par-3 third and followed with a tap-in birdie on the par-5 fourth. He took the lead for good on the par-5 10th, getting up and down for birdie from the sand.

He sealed his long-awaited victory with three birdies _ and several astute moves _ over the next six holes.

Durant decided to lay up off the tee on the short par-4 13th, then nestled a wedge to 2 feet for birdie. His doubled his two-shot lead with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16.

On 14, he made an 11-footer to move to 24 under. On the next hole, he missed the green right. But instead of trying to do too much with his chip shot, he left himself a makable 3-footer for par.

He made his longest putt of the round on the par-4 16th, draining a 20-footer for his seventh birdie.

``It seemed like every big putt I needed to make, I made,'' Durant said.

He cruised home from there, taking very few chances with a four-shot lead.

``The mind is a scary beast sometimes,'' he said. ``If you haven't won in a long time, you go from tunnel vision to spray vision. When you start thinking, 'Don't hit it here, don't hit it here,' that's when you get in trouble. I was trying to be very cognizant and not think that way. ... I tried to play smart, conservative.''

Lickliter made a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to shoot the low round of the day. He was the clubhouse leader before Durant pulled away.

Matteson, meanwhile, continued an impressive rookie year.

He tied for eighth three weeks ago at the Southern Farm Bureau Classic, then had a sixth-place finish the following week in Greensboro. It got even better last week in Las Vegas, where Matteson won the Frys.com Open for his first PGA Tour title.

But he couldn't hang with Durant on Sunday.

``Joe pretty much played flawless golf in my book,'' said Matteson, who moved to 42nd on the money list.

The victory earned Durant $828,000 _ the biggest paycheck of his career _ and ended his winless streak. It also vaulted him to 29th on the money list, in position to earn a spot in the Tour Championship in Atlanta next month.

Durant won his first PGA Tour event in 1998, then won twice in 2001 _ the Bob Hope Classic and the Genuity Championship at Doral. He said his fourth victory was just as special _ not because of the five-year hiatus, but because the week of the tournament was such a family oriented event.

``My family has been the backbone of me and my career,'' said Durant, who has earned nearly $10 million in 11 years. ``We always dreamed about standing on 18 with Mickey. This was very satisfying for our family. It really was.''