Pat Perez claimed his first PGA Tour title as he eagled the final hole to seal the Bob Hope Classic. Perez, 32, carded a three- under-par 69 in the fifth and final round to finish 33 under par and win by three strokes from John Merrick, who signed for a 67. Steve Stricker entered the final round with a three-shot lead over Perez but a five-over-par round of 77 scuppered his chances as he finished five strokes back.
Perez was delighted his first PGA victory came at a tournament hosted by the legendary Arnold Palmer. "I think it's special. I feel privileged to win the tournament that Mr Palmer won 50 years ago and now he's back hosting it," he said. "I feel honoured that he was there to shake my hand when I got done and he's such a legend that it's just a great feeling on top of everything else." Merrick held a share of the lead before a bogey at the 17th saw his charge falter.
"I got a little quick. On the last three holes, I didn't go through my whole process like I was during the whole day, and that could have hurt me," he said. "But it was playing tough out there. And I think I made two bogeys, and that's not bad out there in that wind." Stricker, who fired a 62 on Saturday, ended in a tie for third with Canadian Mike Weir (67). Despite windy conditions Stephen Ames fired a 63 - the lowest round of the day - to climb into a tie for fifth with Bo Van Pelt (67), Tim Clark (69) and Webb Simpson (69).
However, the day belonged to Perez. A double-bogey on the fifth hole ended a run of three consecutive birdies. After a par on the sixth, Perez dropped another stroke with a bogey on the seventh but bounced back with birdies on the eighth and 11th. He was one-under on the day until he hit a perfect drive on the 18th and followed it up with a six-iron near the flag. * PA Sport