McNeill surge trumps Ishikawa

2012-03-12 11:10

Rio Grande - George McNeill birdied his last three holes on Sunday to surge to victory in the Puerto Rico Open and deny Japanese star Ryo Ishikawa a first PGA Tour title.

On a day when Japan marked the first anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Ishikawa had closed with a 68 that gave him a one-shot clubhouse lead.

McNeill, who started the day with a one-stroke lead, matched him with a birdie at 16, regained the lead with a birdie at 17 and added another birdie on the par-five finishing hole at the Trump International resort to complete a 69 for 272 and claim his second career win.

Ishikawa was alone in second on 274, his best finish on the US tour.

Sweden's Henrik Stenson (71) and Boo Weekley (66) tied for third on 275.

"I was really nervous, but I knew what I had to do, and basically I just had to bear down and get it done," McNeill said. "If not, then somebody else was going to win. I was trying to basically have control of myself, and that's all I was looking for."

Ishikawa, 20, observed a moment of silence on the first tee and wore a black ribbon in honor of the victims of last year's tsunami.

He, too, finished strong, and said he was sure a US tour win was within his reach.

"I made three birdies in the last four holes, and it was a great experience for me to be very close to the winning experience," said Ishikawa, who recently accepted a special invitation to the Masters at Augusta National next month.

"It felt like dreaming sometimes. If I get the next chance, I will grab it for sure."

Ishikawa has earned $582 471 on the US PGA Tour this season, surpassing the $411 943 - No 150 on the 2011 money list - needed for special temporary membership.

He has 60 days to join the tour as a special temporary member after becoming eligible, and would then be eligible for unlimited sponsor exemptions this season.

"Still thinking," Ishikawa said of accepting the temporary membership. "Need some time to think about it, but that's the direction I'll be aiming for."

Leading final round scores on Sunday in the PGA Tour's $3.5 million Puerto Rico Open (par-72, USA unless noted):

272 - George McNeill 66-70-67-69

274 - Ryo Ishikawa (JPN) 70-67-69-68

275 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 70-69-65-71, Boo Weekley 70-68-71-66

276 - Scott Brown 69-72-65-70, Matt Jones (AUS) 66-67-72-71

277 - Kevin Stadler 69-69-66-73, Daniel Summerhays 68-70-68-71

278 - Blake Adams 74-68-68-68, Graham DeLaet (CAN) 69-70-68-71, Brandt Jobe 76-69-67-66

279 - Todd Hamilton 68-69-73-69, Roland Thatcher 69-71-68-71

280 - Roberto Castro 69-69-70-72, Ben Curtis 67-73-68-72, J.J. Killeen 70-69-69-72, William McGirt 71-69-68-72, Jeff Overton 68-73-69-70, Brendon Todd 70-73-66-71

281 - Will Claxton 69-72-70-70, Jamie Lovemark 70-72-68-71, Dicky Pride 71-72-67-71, Andres Romero (ARG) 71-67-70-73

282 - Angel Cabrera (ARG) 69-75-69-69

283 - Miguel Angel Carballo (ARG) 71-72-72-68, Jerry Kelly 71-70-70-72, Kevin Kisner, Edward Loar 75-70-70-68, David Mathis 70-75-71-67, Noh Seung-yul (KOR) 71-74-69-69, Rod Pampling (AUS) 71-74-69-69