2006: Wadkins’ win ends skid
When Bobby Wadkins joined the Champions Tour in 2001, it took him only 10 days to find the winner’s circle.
Since that victory, Wadkins had gone 125 events on the Champions Tour without a triumph – until May 14.
Wadkins, sparked by a course-record 9-under 62 in the opening round, led wire-to-wire to capture The Boeing Championship at the Raven Golf Club at Sandestin Resort.
“I’m glad it’s over,” said Wadkins, who won the 2001 Lightpath Long Island Classic. “It’s been a long time. I finally closed the deal.”
He almost didn’t.
Raymond Floyd matched his age in the final round (63) to move from T-21 to second. Floyd, who turns 64 in September, got it to 10 under before a bogey at No. 16.
Wadkins made a 7-foot birdie at No. 17 for the final margin to finish at 10-under 203.
“I don’t know what Raymond was doing on Mother’s Day over there shooting a 63,” Wadkins said. “I didn’t need Raymond trying to be the oldest guy to win a tournament. He can do that when I take a week off.”
The 62 was one shot off Wadkins’ career low that came at this event back in 2003 when it was the Emerald Coast Classic at The Moors Golf Club in Milton.
Wadkins, 54, needed only 23 putts in his opening round and then had 31 and 32, respectively, in the second (71) and final (70) rounds.
Now with two victories, Wadkins is one up on his older brother, Lanny, whose only Champions Tour title was at the 2000 ACE Group Classic. However, Lanny has 21 PGA Tour titles, Bobby none in 712 PGA Tour starts.
Champions debut: Tim Simpson, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, made his Champions Tour debut.
Simpson, who has battled Lyme Disease since 1991, tied for 59th.
“I’m tickled to death,” Simpson said May 10 prior to the start. “For a guy who 15 months ago was laying on an operating table having his brain probed into, to be able to make my Champions Tour debut and be healthy is a blessing.”
Simpson had a deep brain stimulation to try to cope, unsuccessfully, with a benign essential, or hereditary tremor in his left hand.
Peter Jacobsen, who has suffered knee and hip injuries in his career, said he is inspired by players like Simpson.
“My instructor and design partner, Jim Hardy, had the same tremor,” Jacobsen told the Northwest Florida Daily News. “And Jim and Tim talked about the (neurosurgery) operation that could have ended Tim’s life. It was a gamble he took. He could have had a brain hemorrhage or a seizure. I’m inspired by things like Ben Hogan’s comeback from a near-fatal accident.
“So my hat is off to Tim. I’ve played a lot of golf with Tim and it’s great to see him come back.”
Simpson missed the cut in his only other 2006 start, the Nationwide Tour’s Athens Regional Foundation Classic.
Short shots: Brad Bryant’s streak of bogey-free holes ended at 56 following his bogey at the par-4 first hole Friday. Bryant went 54 holes bogey-free to win the Regions Charity Classic May 7 (plus two holes at the FedEx Kinko’s Classic April 30). . . . Mike McCullough sank a 5-foot birdie on the 18th hole to capture the Georgia-Pacific Grand Champions title. McCullough, who double bogeyed the 17th hole Saturday, shot 67-71 to edge Bruce Summerhays by one shot. . . . ACE Group has extended its sponsorship of the ACE Group Classic through 2009, with an option through 2012. The tournament will move to Quail West in Naples, Fla., beginning next year(Feb. 23-25). The event was held at The Club at TwinEagles from 2002-06, but the club opted not to have the event back. Quail West is owned by Bobby Ginn, who recently held his first LPGA event – The Ginn Clubs & Resorts Open – at Reunion Resort outside Orlando, Fla.
– Staff and wire reports
On the tee
Next up: Allianz Championship, June 2-4, Glen Oaks Country Club, Polk City, Iowa. Defending champion: Tom Jenkins.
The buzz: After one year at the Tournament Club of Iowa the event moves back to Glen Oaks, its home from 2001 to 2004, due to the tour’s “no cart policy” that was reversed in March.