By Steve Keating
OAKVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - American Brandt Snedeker took advantage of a Dustin Johnson meltdown to claim a three-shot victory at the Canadian Open on Sunday.
Snedeker, who began the final round with a wafer-thin one-shot cushion atop the leaderboard, could not be nudged from his perch all day, carding a two-under 70 to collect his sixth career PGA Tour win and second of the season.
"This is a tournament I said early on in my career I wanted to win just because my caddie (Scott Vail) is actually from Canada and it's his national open," Snedeker told reporters. "Third oldest tournament on Tour and it's got some great history to it and now to put my name on that trophy, it means a lot.
"I obviously didn't drive the ball the way I wanted to or hit some particular shots but I hung in there really well and made the key putts I needed to and I was able to survive.
"That's what today is all about."
While the margin of victory appeared comfortable, Snedeker's three-shot win over Johnson (70), world number six Matt Kuchar (71), William McGirt (68) and Jason Bohn (71) was not without considerable suspense.
Level with Johnson with three holes to play, Snedeker was suddenly gifted breathing space when Johnson botched the par four 17th, carding a triple-bogey seven to leave the FedExCup champion two clear of his nearest challenger.
After driving his tee shot out of bounds, Johnson was soon in more trouble finding the bunker, where he drove his next shot into the lip and the ball rolled back to a stop at his feet.
"Not too happy but I felt really good with my golf game," said Johnson. "I'm looking forward to the next several weeks.
"Other than the one drive I hit today on 17, I'm actually driving it really well. That is one thing I have been struggling with is the driver.
"It's nothing, nothing to worry about. I'll go get them next weekend."
Unaware of Johnson's collapse, Snedeker birdied the 16th and coolly sealed the victory by parring his final two holes for a winning total of 16-under 272.
After a week of near ideal conditions that produced record equalling scores, the Glen Abbey Golf Club showed its teeth in a testing final round as gusty winds whipped across the Jack Nicklaus designed layout.
"After the first hole I realized it (was more difficult)," said Snedeker. "The wind was blowing very hard.
"Every fairway was tough to hit, every green was getting firm. It placed an importance on managing your golf ball.
"Miss it in the right spot, place importance on getting it up and down, which is all kind of things I'm really strong in."
Hunter Mahan, who turned his back on a potential million dollar pay day by walking away from a two-shot lead on Saturday to rush home when his wife went into labour, made it back to Dallas in time for the birth of his first child.
Mahan, who made the trip in a private jet, tweeted, "What a whirlwind of a day, but I'm happy to announce the birth of my daughter Zoe Olivia Mahan born at 3:26 am. Thanks for all the support!"
A smiling Snedeker said later that he would be using some of his $1 million winner's purse to buy Mahan's new born daughter a nice present for her perfect timing.
"Zoe will be getting a very nice baby gift from me," said Snedeker. "I can't thank Kandi enough for going into labour early, otherwise I don't know if I'd be sitting here if she hadn't.
"But that is a way more important thing than a golf tournament.
"I missed a golf tournament when my first was born and it was the best decision I ever made. I'm sure Hunter would say the same thing."
The search for the first Canadian winner of the national championship since 1954 will continue another year after the home grown contingent fell flat.
Eighteen Canadians teed off on Thursday and just four survived the cut with David Hearn recording the best result firing a final round 73 to finish in a tie for 44th. Former Masters champion Mike Weir was one shot further back on three-under 285 a distance 13 behind the winner.
(Editing by Gene Cherry)
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