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Hoch Wins Michelob Championship

July 15, 1996

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) _ Scott Hoch listed three keys while analyzing his four-shot victory in the Michelob Championship: He started fast, immediately countered his only bogey with a birdie and didn’t make many mistakes.

In the end, it all added up to a course-record 19-under-par 265, good enough for a wire-to-wire victory that never was in doubt.

Hoch ended the suspense quickly Sunday, making birdies on the first three holes and opening his lead to as many as six strokes. It never got closer than three, and Hoch quickly fixed it when it did, making a 20-foot putt for birdie.

``I wanted to start off pretty quick, and you can’t ask for more than that, birdieing the first three holes,″ he said after his second career start-to-finish victory and seventh PGA Tour title in 16 seasons.

``I even surprised myself a little bit,″ said Hoch, who had a 4-under 67 after rounds of 64, 66 and 68. ``Two is a difficult hole, so I was hoping to birdie two of the first three. To birdie all three was a nice plus.″

The early binge moved Hoch to 18-under, and a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-5 15th allowed him to break the tournament mark of 266 set by Lanny Wadkins in 1990 and matched by Kenny Knox and Mike Hulbert in 1991.

``Other than stretches, my putting was outstanding. For a tournament, I can’t remember making as many putts over 12 to 15 feet as I did here,″ Hoch said. ``Other than the second day, I converted almost all my good shots.″

Tom Purtzer had a bogey-free 66 on the 6,797-yard River Course at Kingsmill Golf Club in his best finish since he won the 1991 World Series of Golf.

``I knew he wasn’t going to backtrack any,″ Purtzer said. ``I was just hoping to get a fast start, make some birdies and improve my position.″

Purtzer did that, making birdies on the third and fourth holes, but that didn’t even square things because Hoch’s start was even faster. He made the three birdies in a row on putts of 5, 15 and 1 foot.

``It wasn’t really over after the first three holes, but pretty much,″ Purtzer said.

Defending champion Ted Tryba shared third at 272 with Fred Funk and Michael Bradley. Tryba, who won with a 272 last year, closed with a 67, Funk had his third straight 69 and Bradley matched the day’s best with a 66.

Hoch, who last year blew a five-stroke lead and wound up losing the Houston Open in a playoff to Payne Stewart, was never in danger Sunday. His fast start widened his lead to six, and it remained at least three all day.

Hoch also won for the first time in 14 tries at Kingsmill _ his previous best was third twice _ and won after missing the last two cuts on tour.

The victory, Hoch’s first this year, was worth $225,000 and moved him to fifth on the money list. He also is in position for one of 10 automatic spots on the U.S. team that will play in The Presidents Cup Sept. 12-15 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Lake Manassas, Va.. The competition pits a team of 12 Americans against the best 12 international players from outside Europe in a Ryder Cup format.

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