Justin Rose fought his way back from the brink to eventuality seal victory at the first extra hole in Maryland as Congressional's closing stretch provided a tense and dramatic ending to the Quicken Loans National.
The 2013 US Open winner overcame the unheralded American Shawn Stefani, who found water with his second at the first playoff hole on his way to a double-bogey six, allowing Rose to two-putt with relative comfort and seal his sixth PGA Tour win - and his first since making his major breakthrough at Merion last year.
US duo Ben Martin (71) and Charley Hoffman (69) finished in a tie for third, as overnight leader Patrick Reed struggled badly, taking 41 on his inward nine to fall away spectacularly with a 77.
He was not the only one to capitulate, though, as South Korea's Seung-Yul Noh made two bogeys and three double bogeys between 10 and 16 to go from minus four to plus four and a 79, extinguishing any hope of him adding to his Zurich Classic win from earlier this season.
The Bethesda course, host to Rory McIlroy's 2011 US Open win, was playing much tougher than it was three years ago when the Northern Irishman romped to an eight-shot victory - particularly the 523-yard par-four 18th that almost cost Rose a place in the playoff.
Steele challenge fades
Brendan Steele had earlier headed to the final hole at four under, the score eventually posted by Rose and Stefani, but found water and closed with a double bogey to cost himself any hope of a playoff spot.
The danger signs for the 33-year-old Rose were being flashed in his direction by his fellow competitors but, when co-leader at five under heading to his 72nd hole, he failed to heed the warnings.
After initially pulling his tee shot left into the trees lining the left fairway, he punched out but could only watch on as his ball bounded into the aqua surrounding the green.
Meanwhile back on 17, Stefani's approach failed to find the dance floor and when he missed his seven-foot putt for par following an average chip, an up-and-down bogey for Rose would have seen him remain in a tie for top spot.
After taking relief, however, the Englishman produced a chip worse than Stefani's and when the ball eventually held onto the green, he had 15-foot left for a bogey five and a round of 71.
The major champion, like many others before him, nervelessly produced when it mattered and drained his bogey putt to leave Stefani needing a par at the last to force a playoff.
The world number 246 impressively made his par and with no other players left remaining on the course with any chance of battling their way into a place beyond regulation play, the two were left to wait an unnerving 15 minutes before they could begin sudden death.
When they eventually found themselves back on the 18th tee, the guile and experience of Rose began to shine through as Stefani's drive rested among the left trees his rival had found earlier on - the Englishman sending one down the fairway to really exert the pressure on the winless American.
In an almost carbon copy of Rose's punched recovery shot in regulation play, Stefani's attempt was no better and when it crept into the lurking waters that surround Congressional's final green, his chance of sealing a maiden win on the American circuit were all but over.
Having scraped into the playoff via a clutch bogey-save at the last, Rose would've enjoyed the comfort he was afforded by Stefani's error, which was compounded by an equally poor chip that he could not convert - leaving Rose with the simplest of two putts to claim a confidence-boosting win ahead of the rapidly approaching Open championship at Hoylake.
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