A good career move for Scott Stallings

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 27, 2014 at 2:36 am •  Published: January 27, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Scott Stallings had ambitions to be a baseball player until the Sunday afternoon he sat down to the watch the 1997 Masters with his father.

He watched Tiger Woods demolish Augusta National and the field to win by 12 shots with the lowest score ever.

For a 12-year-old in Tennessee, it was inspirational.

"At that moment, I quit everything, every sport I was playing, and said, 'That's what I want to go do.' And every one of my friends thought I was crazy," Stallings said.

On Sunday, he put his name on the same trophy that Woods has won so many times.

It wasn't a replica of the Augusta National clubhouse or even a green jacket, but it was no less special.

Stallings crushed a 4-iron from 222 yards that barely cleared the water on the par-5 18th green and left him two putts from 40 feet for a birdie that gave him a one-shot victory in the Farmers Insurance Open.

Woods, the defending champion and seven-time winner of this event, wasn't around to see it. He missed the 54-hole cut on Saturday, an oddity in its own right and especially because Stallings' biggest win before that was at The Greenbrier Classic, where Woods missed the 36-hole cut.

Stallings' seventh birdie of the final round gave him a 4-under 68 and capped a wild day in which eight players had a reasonable chance to win in the final hour.

K.J. Choi had the low round of the tournament on the brutal South Course with a 6-under 66 to post the target at 8-under par. Jason Day and Graham DeLaet each made birdie on the last hole for 68s to join Choi.

Pat Perez, the San Diego native who used to pick balls on the practice range during the tournament when he was a kid, watched with a pained expression and a few choice words when a 12-foot par putt on the 16th and a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th narrowly missed. He made birdie on No. 18 to tie for second.

"It's great and bad," Perez said about his runner-up finish. "This is the one I want to win more than anything in the world, and I came up short. ... I thought today would have been my day. I would like to be in that position again."

Marc Leishman of Australia had the last chance to catch Stallings. His drive onto a cart path right of the 18th fairway bounced off a fan and kept him 260 yards from the green — he might not have gone for it, anyway — and his birdie made it a five-way tie for second.

But no one squandered a chance like Gary Woodland. He was one shot behind with two holes to play — one of them the 18th, which he can reach in two easily — only to pull his tee shot on the 17th into a canyon and three-putt from long range for double bogey.