Paul Anthony Arco

The Takeaway

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New Kid on the Block

Monday, August 01, 2011

Two years ago, Scott Stallings soaked in the Masters from the gallery, watching the pros perform on one of golf's biggest stages from behind the ropes.

Next year he'll be inside the ropes as part of the field at the 2012 Masters at Augusta.

That's just one of the perks Stallings earned Sunday, thanks to a birdie putt he dropped on the first playoff hole to win the Greenbrier Classic, defeating veterans Bob Estes and Bill Haas.

The 26-year-old Stallings becomes the sixth rookie to win on the PGA TOUR this season, joining Jhonattan Vegas, Charl Schwartzel, Brendan Steele, Keegan Bradley and Chris Kirk.

With the win, Stallings, who finished third at the Transitions Championship, receives fully-exempt status through the 2013 season. He earns a spot in next week's World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Championship and WGC-HSBC Champions, as well as next year's Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship and Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Stallings (69), Estes (64) and Haas (67) finished 10-under 270 for the week. Jimmy Walker (68), Andres Romero (65), Brendon de Jonge (66), Cameron Tringale (67) and Gary Woodland (69) finished T4 at 9-under 271.

It took a birdie on No. 18 for Stallings to reach the playoff, after he bogeyed one hole earlier to fall behind Estes and Haas by a stroke. The comeback kid made six birdies on the back nine, after finishing the front nine at 4-over.

Estes and Haas missed birdie attempts on playoff hole – No. 18 – before the rookie watched his 7-footer fall for his first TOUR victory. He flipped his putter and pumped his fist in celebration.

Haas and Estes are now a combined 0-6 in playoffs on the PGA TOUR. Haas, however, did earn his fourth top-10 finish of the season, and is No. 12 in the FedExCup standings. Estes, who has battled a wrist injury, was looking for his fifth PGA TOUR win and first since he won the 2002 Kemper Insurance Open.

Stallings is the 10th first-time winner this season. He earned 500 FedExCup points and moved from No. 88 to 26 in the standings.

As euphoric as he was to pull out the win, it still may not rank as Stallings' best golf accomplishment. According to his bio, Stallings' biggest thrill was teaching the sport to wounded veterans.

Now that's a guy who's easy to root for.

Simon Says

Simon Dyson birdied No. 16 and 17 and hung on to beat Richard Green by a stroke Sunday at the Irish Open.

Dyson, who finished ninth at the Open Championship, shot 4-under 67 to finish 15-under 269 for the tournament. Green (68) finished at 14-under 270. Dyson, who started the day in a three-way tie at the top with Green and David Howell, caught Green with his birdie on No. 17 and won it on No. 18 when Green three-putted for a bogey. Stephen Gallacher was third at 12-under.

It was a tough week for Open Championship winner Darren Clarke and three-time-major winner Padraig Harrington, who both missed the cut. A pair of U.S. Open winners, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, finished 3-under and 4-under, respectively.

Stray Shots

Webb Simpson finished the Greenbrier Classic with a disappointing T9 after entering the final round two strokes out of the lead. Still, he has been a model of consistency all season long. Simpson has missed just two cuts in 18 starts, and has earned 14 top-25 finishes, including two runner-up finishes … Trevor Immelman, who led after the opening round, finished T14 at 6-under 274. Brian Davis had the low score (64) in the second round and finished T18 at 5-under 275. Walker and Anthony Kim shot a third-round low 64. Kim finished T14. Estes shot a Sunday-best 64 to reach the playoff…. Kim, the third-round leader, was poised for his first win since the 2010 Shell Houston Open, but shot a 4-over 74 on Sunday to finish T14. He missed four birdie attempts under 14 feet on the first six holes … Woodland's T4 finish was his sixth top-10 this season … Tringale recorded his best career finish with a T4. It's his fourth top 10 this year … Erik Compton finished T73, the fifth time in six starts he's made the cut this year on the PGA TOUR … Tommy Gainey, Blake Adams and Josh Teater lead the PGA TOUR in starts with 25 … Among those who missed the cut include David Love III, John Daly, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson, whose streak of made cuts ended at 17. Defending champion Stuart Appleby also missed the cut by two strokes … Michael Sim withdrew before the second round due to a shoulder injury and Michael Putnam withdrew with a wrist injury.

Tiger Sighting

Plenty of golf fans will be looking forward to the return of Tiger Woods next week at the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone, including me. This will be the first tournament I've covered for that will include Woods, who last competed in May at the PLAYERS, playing nine holes before pulling out with an injury. Plenty has changed for Woods in the last three months. He is no longer in the top 20 in the world; he fired his long-time caddie Steve Williams; and he dropped in the FedExCup standings from 81 to 135. Firestone is a good place for a return – Woods has tasted victory there seven times, the most at any course.

Paul Anthony Arco is a freelance writer and contributor to He is host of The Golf Show!, which airs Saturday mornings on WNTA 1330 AM ( in Rockford, Ill. Paul can be reached at
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