Champions Tour duel ends with
6-footer for birdie on 54th hole.
This year’s Champions Tour season began
with such promise with the anticipation of
the widely heralded newcomers to the tour,
namely Fred Couples and
Corey Pavin. Couples and
Pavin made their debuts
in the season-opening
Mitsubishi Electric Cham-
pionship at the Hualalai
Resort in Hawaii.
Couples nearly wrote
script, but was upstaged at
the curtain by 60-year-old Tom Watson, who
birdied the last two holes to win the title by
one shot over Couples. It was Watson’s 13th
title in 10 years on the Champions Tour.
Watson shot a final-round 65 for a 22-under-
par total of 194 at Hualalai, a perennial shoot-
ing gallery for the over-50 set. Couples finished
with an 8-under 64 on Sunday.
Tied going into the
54th and final hole, Wat-
son hit his approach with
a short iron to within six
feet, while Couples hit a
wedge to about 15 feet.
Couples’ birdie effort
curled just underneath
the hole and Watson made
his 6-footer for the victory.
Couples had taken the lead with a 12-foot
birdie putt at the par- 4 16th, while Watson
missed from three feet closer. But Watson
pulled even with Couples on the par- 3 17th
with a 12-footer for birdie, setting up the
Pavin, the 2010 U.S. Ryder Cup captain,
has said he will play most of the season on
the Champions Tour, with selected events on
the PGA Tour, where he will keep an eye on
prospective team members. He will stop his
playing schedule in September.
Pavin shot rounds of 67-68-71 to finish at
201, 10-under par and finished tied for 13th.
Watson began the day with a two-shot
lead over Couples, who took the lead for the
first time in the championship with a 6-foot
putt for eagle at the par- 5 10th. Watson then
birdied three of the next four holes and the
pair were tied for much of the back nine,
matching birdies on the par- 3 12th and the
par- 5 14th.
The closest anyone could come to the
final two was Michael Allen, who won his
Champions Tour debut last year by taking the
Senior PGA Championship. Allen is exempt
on both the PGA Tour and the Champions
Tour and plans to play extensively on both
tours this year.
Allen carded three consecutive 66s, to
finish in third place alone, four shots back of
Watson. Tom Lehman shot a final-round 68
and was fourth, at 16-under 200. Hale Irwin,
at age 64, shot 68 on Sunday and was alone
in fifth, two back of Lehman.
Watson took the first-round lead with a
9-under-par 63, two shots better than Couples,
who was joined at 65 by Lehman.
From staff reports
MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CHAMPIONSHIP
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