The man once and forever known as “Radar” – as much due to the fact that he looked like his M.A.S.H. counterpart as he was accurate with his irons – quietly walked away with the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday. In true tortoise-meets-hare fashion, Mike Reid plodded along, firing three consecutive rounds in the 70s to enter the final round two back.
Jerry Pate, the early leader, and the man I picked to win – Dana Quigley – were there at the end as well, forcing a playoff, but both made big numbers at the par-5 finishing hole, the third easiest of the tournament. Reid eagled the hole after putting a 3-iron to 20 feet to tie the twosome in regulation, then birdied in the playoff less than half an hour later.
In regulation, Pate pitched on and was 30 feet from the pin, needing just a par to win. His birdie try came up three feet lame. Reid eagled and Pate – whose last victory in a PGA Tour or Champions Tour event was the 1982 win at The Players Championship, stepped up to the yard-long putt. Reid said he “… was thinking, I hope Jerry makes it. I’m tired. I don’t want to go back out there again.”
Instead, Pate missed the putt to the right, the ball not even touching the hole, to shoot 70. Quigley, who earlier in the day had finished his rain-delayed third-round in 66, finished his fourth in a less spectacular even-par 72. Three were tied at 280, or -8 for the championship. Morris Hatalsky, at 284, was four back and the nearest competitor.
Pate will get some flak for his decision to lay up at the 18th in regulation, where a bogey on the third easiest hole cost him dearly. “I’m not a lay-up golfer,” Pate told reporters. “I don’t know why I laid up. Even after I hit the third shot on the green, I’m thinking, ‘God, why did I lay up?'” Evidently, it turns out, Pate’s caddie called the shot. “He said, ‘I want you to lay up. All you have to do is make 5 and you win.'” Listening to his caddie may have cost Pate his first win on the Champions Tour. Pate was 195 yards from the pin.
Dana Quigley, on the other hand, went for the 18th from 210 with a hybrid, landing in the pot bunker long and left. His awkward stance led only to a par after a brilliant chip from the long rough to a foot. In the playoff, Quigley took a little off his hybrid shot into the green, getting the ball wet in the process. Pate, who had hooked his tee shot left, laid up short and pitched to six feet. Reid hit a 5-wood to about 20 feet, but just missed his eagle putt this time around and tapped in for birdie. Page missed once again, this time from two yards out, and Reid – the man who had wanted to lose 30 minutes before – had won.
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