SAN MARTIN -- The Frys.com Open looked as if it might be heading to a playoff for a second year in a row.
But a birdie on the 17th hole Sunday by PGA Tour rookie Jonas Blixt -- a native of Sweden who switched to golf only after he realized he couldn't make hockey a career -- broke a logjam and gave him his first tour title.
Blixt shot a 3-under 68 in the final round, giving him 16-under 268 for the tournament and a one-stroke victory over Tim Petrovic and Jason Kokrak. John Mallinger, the second- and third-round leader, closed with a 72 and was one of four players who finished two strokes back.
The birdie that gave Blixt the edge came after his drive on the par-4, 358-yard 17th landed in the rough.
"It was a bad lie," Blixt said. "Sometimes you can get a good lie in the rough and you can kind of fluff it up and get some check on it. This one was terrible so I told my caddie, I got to put a full swing on it."
The approach shot landed a little more than 7 feet from the hole. Blixt made the putt and left CordeValle Golf Club with the $900,000 first-place prize and a tour exemption through the 2014 season. The win also elevated him to No. 35 on the tour money list for 2012 at nearly $2.2 million.
Blixt's round was far from the best one played Sunday. Jimmy Walker became the third golfer this week to tie the course record with a 62, good enough to get him into the group at 270 that included
Petrovic, who shot a 64, had a chance to wind up at 268 himself, but his 28-foot birdie putt attempt on No. 18 lipped the cup, and he had to settle for a par.
"I had a great line on it, but somebody said about three feet from the hole it hit something and bounced into the air," said Petrovic, who finished his round well ahead of Blixt and had to wait in the clubhouse to find out if his day was done.
Last year, it took six playoff holes before Bryce Molder edged Briny Baird for the tournament title, but Petrovic never got his chance against either Blixt or Kokrak.
Blixt turned to golf because it was his father's favorite sport.
"My dad loves the game. He's the biggest grinder I know. He always wants to compete," Blixt said. "I remember like fall nights when it's really dark. I mean, we just kept on playing until we couldn't see the ball. It was crazy. Dad didn't want to go home, I didn't want to go home."
After playing at Florida State, Blixt moved to Jacksonville where his home course is TPC Sawgrass. That gave him the opportunity to practice regularly with other pros such as Singh.
With a third-place finish eight days ago at the TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, Blixt seemed well positioned for success at the Frys.com. But he said he still wasn't 100 percent satisfied with his swing going into the week.
"I just told myself, 'Just give it a good hit every time and see what happens. Just focus,' " he said. "You can't do anything better than your best. That's what I did on every shot."
Blixt's game could have gotten sidetracked on the front nine after bogeys on the third and fourth holes. But he said he was able to shrug them off.
"It's just golf," he said. "It's just, you know, a golf club and a ball, trying to hit it into a little hole. I try not put too much pressure and emphasis on the bad stuff. I hit a couple bad shots there, and I paid for it, but was still in it."
Blixt's father was back in Sweden, but he had other family members here to help him celebrate. Immediately after signing his scorecard, he and a lifelong friend from Norway leaped into the air with a not very golf-like chest bump.
"I couldn't be happier," Blixt said. "I can't really believe this is happening."
Attendance is down, but officials are excited about the future. Page 6
Jonas Blixt 68-268 -16
Jason Kokrak 68-269 -15
Tim Petrovic 64-269 -15
Vijay Singh 68-270 -14
Charles Howell III 72-273 -11
Ernie Els 66-274 -10
Ben Curtis 70-275 -9
Camilo Villegas 68-276 -8
Davis Love III 69-277 -7
Rocco Mediate 71-278 -6
Angel Cabrera 75-284 E
For a photo slideshow of Sunday's final round, go to www.mercurynews.com/photo