Woody Austin came through with a clutch putt to help he and Mark Calcavecchia win the Merrill Lynch Shootout. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia hold off field to win Merrill Lynch Shootout

During an entertaining performance at the President's Cup, Woody Austin got well known in a hurry. Mainly, it was due to his willingness to attempt a daring shot near the water, which led to an awe- and giggle-inspiring face plant into the water. The affable Austin quickly became a crown favorite during the Montreal event.

But Austin became known for something else during the United States' victory - for making clutch putts. Austin was at it again over the weekend, as his 35-foot putt on the final hole gave he and partner Mark Calcavecchia a one-shot victory at the Merrill Lynch Shootout in Naples, Fla. Sunday.

Austin and Calcavecchia held off a charge by the team of Greg Norman and Bubba Watson. Both Norman and Watson failed to convert birdie opportunities on the 18th hole that would have forced a playoff.

For Austin, who has three career victories on the PGA Tour, the win added on to what has been an extremely productive time for the 43-year-old, though he said he had no plans of taking this one lightly.

"I haven't won enough to think that it certainly comes easy, so I know how important it is whether it's a two-man team tournament or what have you," Austin told reporters after the event.

Austin and Calvacchia shot a 9-under 63 on the final day in the scramble format. The winning duo finished the entire tournament at 29-under, splitting $700,000 of the $2.8 million purse.

Scott McCarron and Steve Elkington finished with a 62 to help create a five-way tie for third place along with defending champions Jerry Kelly and Rod Pampling, Scott Hoch and Kenny Perry, Chris DiMarco and Camilo Villegas and Fred Funk and Jeff Sluman, who led after the opening round this year.

The team of Norman and Watson made it interesting, as Norman was looking for his first victory of any kind since the 2001 Skins Game, while Watson was looking for his first career win.

"Am I disappointed for myself? Yeah. But more for Bubba. I would love for him to get a victory. To get a taste of it," said Norman at the post-tournament press conference. "I think he did today, quite honestly, all the way down to the last putt. That's what golf is. You got to expect the unexpected."

And while Austin was celebrating the victory, he was also excited to do so well his first time out at the event. And his partner reminded him that he won't have to wait long to get another shot at the Merrill Lynch Shootout.

"We're already invited back. That's the good news. First entrants into next year's tournament," said Calcavecchia.

December 10, 2007

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