2004: After two near misses, Kite earns minor respite
It’s not the Senior British Open or the U.S. Senior Open, but it’s still a victory.
Tom Kite, who let the two majors slip from his grasp in recent weeks, shot 3-under-par 69 Aug. 8 for a one-shot victory over Craig Stadler at the 3M Championship. It was Kite’s first victory in 47 events dating to the 2002 Napa Valley Championship.
“That was a long victory drought – way too long,” said Kite, who had six second-place finishes during that stretch. “I’m very proud of this win, especially after what’s happened to me the last couple of weekends, and especially what happened to me last weekend in St. Louis.”
At the Senior British Open July 25, Kite tied for second, one shot behind Peter Oakley. At the Senior Open Aug. 1, Kite led with four holes to play but finished bogey-bogey-par-double bogey to tie for third behind winner Peter Jacobsen.
At the TPC of the Twin Cities, Kite grabbed the lead at No. 13 and secured it by rolling a 60-foot eagle putt at 18 to 11⁄2 feet and making birdie. He finished at 13-under 203 and won $262,500 for his seventh victory on the Champions Tour.
For the second year in a row, Tom Purtzer started the final round with the lead, but couldn’t close out the victory. He held a two-stroke lead over Kite entering Sunday’s round, but a double bogey at the seventh and a bogey at No. 9 sent Purtzer toward his final-round 75. Last year, Purtzer led by one stroke through 36 holes, but fell to 10th after a final-round 74.
Short shots: John Harris had the shot of the tournament, making a double-eagle 2 on the 571-yard sixth hole Saturday. Harris holed a 5-wood approach from 257 yards. “I thought it was going long,” Harris told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “but it landed soft right in the middle of the green and rolled in, like a putt.” Harris’ double eagle is the first on the Champions Tour since John Jacobs made one at the 2002 MasterCard Championship. It was the 25th in Champions Tour history. . . . Baseball Hall of Famer Johnny Bench finished 77th at 45 over par (89-91-81). . . . Arnold Palmer, who designed the course with Tom Lehman, shot 40 over par and finished 76th (92-84-80).
– Staff and wire reports
Next up: Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, Aug. 20-22, Rock Barn Golf & Spa, Conover, N.C. Defending champion: Craig Stadler.
The buzz: Second-year event moves up on the schedule after being played in late September last year.