Merritt breaks through in National

Troy Merritt claimed his first victory in 96 starts on the PGA Tour, closing with a 4-under-par 67 to win the Quicken Loans National by three strokes over Rickie Fowler at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Va.

The 29-year-old Merritt, who missed the cut in his previous five tournaments, backed up his tournament-record 61 on Saturday with another solid round that included birdies on three of the first seven holes and two of the last three, with his only bogey coming on the 12th hole. He punctuated his victory with a 34-foot birdie putt on the final hole.

“It’s amazing how you can dream of winning a golf tournament your entire life and you’ve got it scripted and when it happens, you’re not thinking,” said Merritt, whose only previous pro victory came in the 2009 Mexico Open on what is now the Tour. “You don’t remember what your name is. You’re just reacting. That’s all it was.

“It was really nice coming down that final fairway with a two-shot lead. Not feeling very much stress, just trying to make as good of a golf swing as I could and, as you saw, it was nice to have only one putt.”

Fowler, the Players champion from Murrieta, birdied five of the last seven holes in a closing 69, while David Lingmerth of Sweden, who won the Memorial in June for his first PGA Tour victory, was four shots back in solo third also after a 69.

Defending champion Justin Rose of England shot 70 and was six strokes back in a tie for fourth with Bill Haas, the 2013 National champion, who also had a 70, rookie Justin Thomas (67), Danny Lee (69) of New Zealand, Carl Pettersson (70) of Sweden and Jason Bohn (71).

Tournament host Tiger Woods bounced back from a 74 in the third round with three straight birdies through No. 5 while closing with a 68.

That gave Woods his second-best finish of the season, behind only his tie for 17th in the Masters, and seemed to be a step forward in his comeback after struggling the last two years.

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