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Stallings roars to third place finish at Transitions Championship

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PALM HARBOR, Fla. -- Former Tennessee Tech standout Scott Stallings finished third Sunday in the Transitions Championship, carding a one-under par 70 on his final tour of the Copperhead South Course at Innisbrook. It was the highest PGA finish in the young career of the former Golden Eagle All-American.

Stallings was three strokes back of tourney winner Gary Woodland, who posted a final round 67 to finish with a 15-under-par total of 269. Webb Simpson was second at 270, with Stallings wrapping up play at 12-under-par 272.

A PGA tour rookie, Stallings kept his poise and stayed in the game until the 16th, the toughest driving hole on the Copperhead course with trees to the left and water to the right. Stallings went right into the lake and made double bogey.

He shot a 70 and finished alone in third, which gets him in the Shell Houston Open in two weeks.

"A sponsor exemption changed my year, and I can't thank Transitions enough," Stallings said. "Without them giving me an opportunity to play, there's no way I would have been here. One good tournament completely changed my year."

Stallings had two birdies and two bogeys on the front nine, making the turn at even par for the day and staying at 11-under for the tournament.

He birdied 11, 14 and 15 on the back nine, vaulting him to 14-under and lifting him into a tie for the tourney lead. A double bogey on the par 4, 16th hole knocked him off the pace and he recovered to shoot par on the final two holes to claim his third place finish.

It was the only double bogey in the 72 holes this week for Stallings, who was tied for first in the field for most birdies with 22.

Woodland saved par with a 10-foot putt on the last hole to claim his first U.S. PGA Tour title.

Woodland, who earlier this year lost a playoff at the Bob Hope Classic, tied for fifth at Phoenix and tied for sixth at the Honda Classic, made all 17 putts he had from within 20 feet during the pressure-packed final round.

"I was struggling with the golf swing today. I think the adrenaline got the most of me all day," said Woodland. "But the one thing that has really helped me in my career has been the putting and today it saved me. It won me a golf tournament."

Woodland's dramatic par at the 18th was his only par on a rollercoaster last nine for the winner, who posted five birdies and three bogeys from the 10th.

A tightly-packed leaderboard gave way to a late duel between Woodland, 26, and the 25-year-old Simpson, who was tied for the lead as he played the 18th.

Simpson hit his tee shot in the left fairway bunker and his second shot through the green about 50 feet from the cup, close to where Woodland had been in the group before.

His strong chip ran 20 feet past the hole and Simpson missed the par putt that would have forced a playoff, killing his shot at capturing his maiden Tour victory.

"Just one shot short is tough because you're here four days and you work so hard. This opportunity comes not that often, so I'm a little disappointed," said Webb, whose previous best finish had been a tie for fourth last year in Las Vegas.

"But I'm sure looking back I'll learn a lot from it and hopefully have many opportunities to win again."

The top four spots all went to Americans.  Stallings was third on 272, with Brandt Snedeker (70) another stroke away.

Third-round leader Justin Rose of Britain, who floundered with four bogeys in a row from the seventh, shot 74 and was in a group of six on 274 that also included compatriot Martin Laird (70) and Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe (73).

"I felt really in control the beginning of the round," said Rose. "Kind of a case of I didn't really get anything out of the first six, seven holes. I hit a lot of good putts, burned a lot of edges early.

"I just seemed to lose my focus."

De Jonge, also gunning for his first U.S. PGA Tour title, was tied for the lead at 14 under par before going into a tailspin with four bogeys over the last seven holes.

Information for this story provided by PGA Tour and Reuters