This time around, age prevailed.
Tom Watson became the 13th-oldest player to win on the Champions Tour. He made birdies on the final two holes Sunday for one-stroke victory over senior newcomer Fred Couples in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Kaupulehu-Kona, Hawaii.
“This is what I live for in my career – to do what I did today,” Watson said. “I don’t think I’ll have too many more, but I had this one.”
The 60-year-old Watson, coming off a win with Jack Nicklaus in the Champions Skins at Kaanapali, closed with a 7-under 65 to finish at 22-under 194 for his 13th Champions Tour title and his first victory in 34 career pro tour starts in Hawaii.
After pushing his drive into the rough, Watson hit a spectacular second shot with a pitching wedge from 147 yards to 4 feet on the 18th green.
Couples, who turned 50 last fall, closed with a bogey-free 64. He just missed his 15-foot birdie putt to the left on the final hole. Watson calmly sank the winner and waved his cap to the roaring crowd.
“It wasn’t over until he said it was over,” Couples said.
Late mistakes tie knot
Bubba Watson, Alex Prugh and Joe Ogilvie all had late chances to create a little separation atop the Bob Hope Classic field in La Quinta, Calif. All three made mistakes better suited to their amateur playing partners.
And that left a leaderboard crowded with low-profile pros seeking their first career victories today.
Watson double-bogeyed the final hole in the fourth round, dropping him into a tie with PGA Tour rookie Prugh at 23-under 265. Prugh missed a 3-foot putt to bogey his own final hole, while Ogilvie sat two strokes back after a double bogey on his 17th.
The famed event features none of the PGA Tour’s top 35 players, creating golden opportunities for players heading into the final round today at the Arnold Palmer Private course at PGA West.
German wins in UAE
Martin Kaymer birdied the 18th hole to win the Abu Dhabi Championship, earning the title for the second time in three years with a one-shot victory over Ian Poulter in the United Arab Emirates.
The German sank a 2-foot putt for his sixth birdie in a 6-under 66 to finish at 21-under 267 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and earn his fifth European Tour title. Poulter of England finished with a 66 after missing a 15-foot birdie putt to force a playoff.
Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland was third at 269 after a 67.
“That was the nicest round of golf I have ever played on the European Tour,” said Kaymer, who has a metal plate in his right foot after breaking three bones in a go-kart crash last summer.
Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi title in 2008 and was second last year. Over his past 12 rounds in Abu Dhabi, he is 56 under.