Starting the day in the final group with three holes to play, Chopra broke a three-way tie with Shigeki Maruyama and Fredrik Jacobson with a birdie at No. 16 and then made par on holes 17 and 18 to hold on for a one-shot victory at Tesoro Club's Arnold Palmer Course in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
"It's amazing," Chopra told reporters after earning his first PGA Tour victory in his 133rd career start. "It is something that I've dreamed about for a long time."
Born in Sweden, Chopra grew up in India from the age of eight years old and recalled having to fly overseas to buy golf balls. He's played in numerous tours all over the world and vividly remembers spending his evenings watching the finishes of PGA Tour events on TV, dreaming that one day it would be him closing out a win in the U.S.
"To think that I could come from there to being a winner on the PGA Tour," Chopra said. "When I think about it, it's pretty special."
Chopra finished at 19-under-par 273 to become the 12th first-time winner on the PGA Tour this year. The $810,000 winner's share moved Chopra from No. 104 to No. 46 on the season money list.
Chopra's season total increased to $1,744,438, surpassing his previous best from last year when he finished 54th on the PGA Tour money list. Chopra has improved his money list standing in each of his four years on Tour, finishing No. 108, No. 90 and No. 54 in his previous three years.
Jacobson and Maruyama settled for a second-place tie at 18-under 274, earning $394,000 apiece. Dicky Pride finished fourth at 16-under 276, while Ken Duke, Cameron Beckman, Charlie Wi and Sean O'Hair tied for fifth at 13-under 279.
Jacobson, who was also born in Sweden, said Chopra is an extremely talented player.
"Last year showed particularly with how many times he was into contention coming into the weekend," Jacobson said in his post-round interview. "He may not have had the best Saturdays when he was in this phenomenon I've been fighting a bit this year, but I think on the other hand, if you keep putting yourself there, sooner or later, you breakthrough.
"This time he did very well and he hung in there. He got a bit of a cushion, he kept slugging away and he did what he had to do."
As it turned out, having Sunday's final round suspended by darkness turned out to be a good thing for Chopra. After watching what had been a four-shot lead at the turn evaporate, he was able to regroup overnight and come back with a fresh perspective Monday morning.
"I was wound up pretty tight (Sunday) night (and) came up this morning after a good night's sleep," Chopra said. "I mentioned to my wife, Sam, I said, ‘Wow, it's amazing how much more relaxed I feel today.' I kind of let it all kind of sink in and put it into perspective.
"I thought: What is the absolute worst that can happen? I'll finish third, which is one hell of a great tournament. I would have taken it in the beginning of the week."
Chopra got off to a good start, making birdie on the par-5 16th hole to take a one-shot advantage - exactly the scenario most had anticipated. No. 16 played as the easiest hole in the tournament, yielding birdies to Chopra in all four rounds.
At the par-3 17th, Chopra two-putted for par from 55 feet. Needing to avoid a bogey or worse on the par-4 18th to win as Jacobson and Maruyama both made par on each of their final two holes, he hit his tee shot into a bunker. However, he recovered with an approach shot that landed 25 feet from the pin and successfully executed a two-putt for par and the victory.
"I've never had a putt or two putts to win a golf tournament on the PGA Tour before," Chopra said. "You never know how you're going to react."
October 30, 2007
Davis Love III, who played the final 57 holes of the Children's Miracle Network Classic without a bogey, finished at 25-under 263 in the season-ending event played at the Walt Disney World Golf Resort in Florida. It has been a long road back for Love, who severely sprained his ankle late last year. After tearing ligaments, he needed surgery, and he's spent much of this year rehabilitating the injury.
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