Watson wins Champions Tour

TOM Watson became the 13th oldest player to win on the Champions Tour on Sunday, birdieing the final two holes for a one-stroke victory over senior newcomer Fred Couples in the season-opening tournament.

The 60-year-old Watson, coming off a win with Jack Nicklaus in the Champions Skins at Kaanapali, closed with a seven-under 65 to finish at 22-under 194 for his 13th Champions Tour title and his first victory in 34 career starts in Hawaii on the two tours.

After driving into the right rough, Watson hit a spectacular second shot that rolled 20 feet on the 18th green and stopped four feet from the flag.

Couples, who closed with a bogey-free 64, just missed his 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole. Watson calmly sank the winner and waved his cap to the roaring crowd.

It was a sweet victory for Watson, who made a magical run last year at the British Open before losing to Stewart Cink in a play-off.

Again, Watson torched the back nine with five birdies. He had six birdies on each of the first two days.

Couples was trying to become the 16th player to win his Champions Tour debut.

The 15-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t hoisted a trophy since the 2003 Shell Houston Open. Last year, he had four top-10 finishes in 16 starts on the regular tour and finished 75th on the money list.

Michael Allen birdied the final hole for a 66 to finish third at 18 under, a stroke ahead of Tom Lehman (68).

Elsewhere, major champion Steve Elkington gave himself an outside chance of ending a decade-long drought when he edged within five strokes of the lead after the fourth round of the Bob Hope Classic in Palm Springs, California.

The 47-year-old Texas-based Australian moved into a tie for 11th with a four-under 68 on the La Quinta course on Sunday.

Americans Bubba Watson and Alex Prugh were tied for the lead with one round left in the 90-hole event.

Elkington, who won the 1995 US PGA Championship at Riviera, has fallen on hard times since capturing the 1999 Doral-Ryder Open in Miami.

He has finished in the top 100 on the US PGA Tour money list only three times in the past 10 years, although he showed flashes of his old brilliance to come within a stroke of forcing Phil Mickelson into a play-off at the 2005 US PGA Championship.

But Elkington lost his exempt status after finishing 183rd on last year’s money list, which leaves him with no choice but to beg for tournament invitations.

Watson and Prugh were on 23-under par 265, one stroke ahead of compatriot Bill Haas and South African Tim Clark.



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