Sunday, May 29, 2011


LOUISVILLE, Kentucky. (AP) — Tom Watson summoned up some of his old major magic, holing a 3ft birdie putt on the first play-off hole to beat David Eger in the United States Senior PGA Championship on Sunday.
The 61-year-old Watson, pictured, down a shot with four holes left in regulation, became the oldest player to win a major since the seniors tour was created in 1980.
Watson closed with a 2-under 70 to finish at 10-under 278 and capture his 14th career major, six since turning 50 to go with five British Opens, two Masters and a U.S. Open.
Perhaps better known as a rules official than as a player, Eger closed with a 67.
Both Eger and Watson missed short birdie putts on the 72nd green that would have won it in regulation, Eger pulling a 6-footer and Watson pushing one from 4 feet.
Watson went for the green with his rescue-club second shot on the playoff hole, the 18th, but it came up short and in the deep and gaping bunker that fronts the green. Eger had caught a bad break when his drive came to rest in a grassy finger on the edge of a large bunker along the left side of the fairway. He hit a layup and then a wedge to 10 feet, but missed the birdie attempt.
Taking little time after blasting out of the sand to 3 feet, Watson calmly stroked in the winner while a large gallery cheered and applauded.
Kiyoshi Murota, who had at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds, closed with a 72 and was alone in third, a shot out of the play-off.
Five days before he turns 66, four-time Senior PGA winner Hale Irwin had a double bogey and two bogeys in a 73 that left him at 8 under.
Eduardo Romero (68), the benefactor of a lucky bounce off the rocks that turned a bogey into a birdie at the 13th hole, and Peter Senior (69) were at 7 under. Nick Price shot a 72 and to finish another stroke back.
Steve Pate, who turned 50 on Thursday to qualify for his first senior event, closed with a 69 and was at 5 under along with Corey Pavin (70) and Loren Roberts (72).
Watson became the third-oldest winner of a Champions Tour event. The victory came 10 years, 2 days after he won his other Senior PGA Championship at Ridgewood Country Club in 2001. Watson captured his first major since 2007.
The 59-year-old Eger has played the Champions Tour full-time for a decade. But he's perhaps best known as a top rules official for the PGA Tour and U.S. Golf Association from 1982-95. He never finished better than a tie for fifth in 75 PGA Tour starts between 1979 and 1981. He regained his amateur status and was a three-time Walker Cupper during his days as a golf administrator. Since turning pro at 50, he has won four times on the Champions Tour, including this year's Liberty Mutual Legends.
Much like the Indy 500, the leader changed every few minutes. Playing partners Irwin and Murota shared the lead until Murota was assessed a one-stroke penalty for a double-hit on a chip shot at the third hole.
Irwin clutched the lead for the next three holes before making double at the difficult sixth when he hit a shot from the rough into a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down. That mistake dropped him into a tie at 8 under with Eger, Watson and Murota. Watson then took the lead by himself with a birdie at the seventh hole.
Eger, playing two holes ahead of the lead group, pulled even with Watson by chipping to 15 feet and making the birdie putt at 10. They shared the lead, together or with others, for the next four holes while they traded pars.
Eger then grabbed the top spot by rolling in a short birdie putt at the 15th. But he turned right around and gave it back on the next hole when his approach came up short of the green and he made bogey.
An instant later, Watson stroked in an 18-footer for birdie from the first cut behind the 15th green go up by a shot.
Eger responded with a 7-foot birdie putt at the uphill 16th to even things up once again.
After first Eger and then Watson missed easy birdie putts that would have given them a win, they headed for the extra hole.
As has been the case 13 times before, Watson had what it took to capture another major.

Par 288 (4x72)
278 David Eger (US) 74 68 69 67, Tom Watson (US) 70 70 68 70 (Watson won play-off).
279 Kiyoshi Murota (Japan) 66 67 74 72.
280 Hale Irwin (US) 69 68 70 73.
281 Eduardo Romero (Argentina) 73 67 72 69, Peter Senior (Australia) 73 68 71 69.
282 Nick Price (Zimbabwe) 67 70 73 72.

288 Mark Mouland (Wales) 68 72 72 74 (T22).
289 Roger Chapman (England) 73 70 74 72 (T27).
297 Barry Lane (England) 71 75 76 75, Des Smyth (Ireland) 70 73 76 78 (T50).
299 Christopher Williams (England) 74 74 76 75 (T60).
305 Ross Drummond (Scotland) 77 71 79 78 (T76).

MISSED THE CUT (148 or better qualified)
151 Sam Torrance (Scotland) 79 72.



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