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Rookie Ramey wins Dominican PGA title with late birdie binge

MIAMI (AFP) – A run of four consecutive birdies starting at the 13th hole sparked rookie Chad Ramey to his first US PGA title on Sunday at the Corales Puntacana Championship.

The 29-year-old American, making only his 16th tour start, fired a five-under-par 67 to finish 72 holes on 17-under 271 at the Dominican Republic resort.

That was enough for Ramey, making only his 16th US PGA start, to grab a one-stroke victory over countrymen Alex Smalley, who shot 65, and Ben Martin, who failed in a bid for a wire-to-wire triumph.

“It’ll give me a lot of confidence,” Ramey said of his victory. “I’ve always had the self-belief I can get it done and I proved it today.”

Ramey, ranked 203rd, was coming off his best PGA finish three weeks ago with a share of fifth at the Puerto Rico Open but had missed the cut in seven of his past nine starts.

Most of the world’s top golfers are at the WGC Match Play Championship in Texas this week, leaving the best of the rest to compete for a title in the Caribbean.

World number 565 Martin, chasing his first US PGA Tour title since 2014, led by two after 54 holes but began with a double bogey.

Martin recovered by reeling off four birdies in five holes from the third to the seventh but Smalley birdied five of the first six holes and added birdies at the par-three 11th and 17th to seize the clubhouse lead.

Martin, playing on past tour winner status, found a fairway bunker and made bogey at the par-five 12th but birdied the par-five 14th to reclaim a share of the lead.

That set the stage for Ramey’s birdie barrage, the last of them on a 28-foot putt at the par-four 16th to claim the lead alone.

“I just tried to keep my head down, just keep grinding it out, because you never know until the end,” said Ramey.

At 18, Martin dropped his approach six feet from the cup but missed a birdie putt to force a playoff. Ramey escaped the left rough and two-putted for par and the victory.

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