Watson wins 72nd Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla [Sports]

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At the conclusion of Saturday’s third round I was licking my chops in anticipation for the inevitable showdown that was certain to take place Sunday afternoon.  Some of the most recognizable names in championship golf were within 5 shots of the leader and all of them looked poised to make a run.

What we got on Sunday was a mixture of both surprises and disappointments. 

Kentucky favorite Kenny Perry started off hot and had a big smile on his face most of the day.  After a birdie at the first hole, I asked Perry if he had on his “Louisville” red pants today.

From KitchenAid and Senior PGA Championship

 

“Louisville red, Western Kentucky red, you know, whichever,” a chuckling Perry said.

Perry made it to the 3 under mark early, but failed to get any momentum throughout the day and finished at even par for the tournament. 

Defending champion Tom Lehman seemed to find trouble around every corner of his final round.  Missing fairways is something that Valhalla punishes players for greatly and it cost Lehman a 77 on Sunday, leaving him in a tie for 22nd place at even par.

Sunday’s start-of-day co-leaders Hiyoshi Murota and Hale Irwin remained in contention for the entire final round, but missed putts kept both players just out of reach of Watson in the end.  A clutch birdie putt on 18 gave Murota 3rd place outright.

Opportunities were bountiful for players on Sunday, but the two players that capitalized on them most were Tom Watson and David Eger.

Eger carded the low round of the day (67) and finished just before Watson.  Eger and his wife waited anxiously in the clubhouse for Watson to finish.  When Watson missed a 6-foot birdie putt to win the championship in regulation, a stunned crowd groaned in unison, but the playoff stage was set.

From KitchenAid and Senior PGA Championship

Replaying the par 5 18th, both players put their tee-shots safely in the fairway.  Watson was first to hit his second shot and elected to go for the green in two.  Coming up about half a club short, Watson put his approach in the bunker in front of the green.  Eger decided to play it safe and laid up, setting up a 75-yard pitch shot.

Eger’s third shot was a good one, putting him in position with about a 12-foot putt for birdie.  Watson surveyed the green and hit a magnificent bunker shot that left him with just a few feet for his own birdie.

Not a sound could be heard among the thousands crowding the 18th green.  Eger stroked his putt firmly with a good roll, but just missed the right edge of the cup.

Without wasting a second, I watched as Watson took a quick practice stroke and confidently stroked his birdie putt to the bottom of the cup.  The crowd roared with jubilant cheers and applause; another victory for a living legend.

At week’s beginning I reached over the ropes and shook Watson’s hand, saying “Have a great week, Tom,” and that he did.

 

 

Photo of Watson and trophy courtesy of: www.pga.com

About Michael Windle
A fair-weather contributor to Louisville.com. I enjoy music, golf and the beach - when I can get there.
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