HOUSTON -- Jodie Mudd may not be one of the more well-known players on the PGA Tour, but he's one of the richest.
Mudd, who qualified for the $2.5 Nabisco Championship because he was ranked among the top 30 money winners this year, won his biggest paycheck Sunday with a sudden-death playoff victory over Billy Mayfair.
Mudd sank three straight birdies, including one on the first hole of a playoff, to earn the first-place paycheck of $450,000 in the world's richest golf tournament.
'It just goes to show how far you can go when you let yourself go,' Mudd said. 'I really thought Billy was going to win. I didn't think I had that much of a game. I didn't know if I could go the limit and birdie the last three holes.'
He did, though, and moved up to fifth on the money list from 21st with earnings this year of $911,746. The first-place paycheck was more than the $421,746 he had earned in 22 tournaments this year, including a victory at The Players Championship, and more than he had earning in any of his eight previous seasons on the Tour.
'The way Billy played was amazing,' said Mudd, who now has four PGA Tour victories. 'A guy like that ... doesn't make a bogey and loses ... he's got to be disappointed.'
Mudd and Mayfair were tied at 11-under-par 273 after the regulation 72 holes at Champions Golf Club. On the first playoff hole, the par-4, 431-yard No. 14, Mayfair's drive sailed into the trees. Mudd drove his tee shot straight down the fairway. He capitalized by reaching the green in two shots, then sank a 15-footer to win the tournament.
It was the second time Mayfair has come close to winning his first PGA Tour event. He lost at the Greater Milwaukee Open earlier this year in a playoff with Jim Gallagher Jr.
'I'm going to hold my head high,' said Mayfair, who led or shared the lead from the second round on. 'I lost in Milwaukee by making bogey. But today I did not lose it and I'm real happy about that. I'm just going to work that much harder in the off-season.'
Mayfair, who was 27th on the money list, earned $270,000 for the second-place finish, which was his biggest paycheck ever.
Wayne Levi, who broke several course and tournament records with a final-round 63, and Ian Baker-Finch finished three strokes behind the leaders at 8-under 276, followed by Nick Price at 277 and Chip Beck at 278.
Greg Norman, the tour's leading money winner, and Tim Simpson finished at 279.
Norman raised his earnings this year to $1,165,477, which left him short of the PGA record of $1,395,278, set by Tom Kite, who won last year's Nabisco Championship in a playoff over Payne Stewart.
'I was flat,' Norman said. 'Just flat, that's all. I didn't make anything. That's all there was to it. I didn't finish off the way I like. It was one of those days where nothing clicked.'
Kite finished Sunday at 2-over 286. Curtis Strange, who won the initial Nabisco event in 1987, and the 1988 tournament in a playoff, did not play in this year's event.
Only the 30 leading money winners on this year's PGA Tour were eligible to compete in the tournament. The most notable no-show was Masters and British Open champion Nick Faldo, who was not eligible to compete because he is not a member of the Tour.