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Sluman rallies to win Bank of America

By HOWARD ULMAN
Associated Press

CONCORD, Mass. — Jeff Sluman’s game was “in tatters” when he began playing on the Champions Tour last September. His putting at the end of his first win in a senior event was terrific.

When Sluman rolled in a 34-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th hole to wrap up the Bank of America Championship Sunday with an 8-under 64, runner-up Loren Roberts bowed to the winner and waved his arms up and down.

Quite a gesture from the man known as the “Boss of the Moss.”

“I hope it happens a few more times,” Sluman said after his three birdies on the last four holes gave him a 17-under 199 total and a two-shot victory over Roberts (67). The 64 was the best final round by a winner on the tour this year.

Playing in the same threesome, they made the tournament a two-man race for most of the back nine.

“It was a little bit of match play there,” said Roberts, the second-round leader by one stroke over Sluman and Mark McNulty. “Then he stepped on the gas.”

Sluman, who turned 50 last Sept. 11, took his first lead of the tournament with a 13-foot birdie putt at the 338-yard 15th hole at the 6,741-yard Nashawtuc Country Club course. His putter gave him a two-stroke lead when he knocked a putt of just over 30 feet into the center of the cup at the 171-yard 17th.

Roberts still had a slim chance at the 18th when he left himself a 5-foot birdie putt. But that became meaningless when Sluman went first and holed his 34-foot birdie.

“You get real comfortable when you make putts like I did on 15 and 17,” Sluman said, the burden of winning his first Champions event now gone. “I feel I can relax a little more and go out and have some fun.”

Roberts has won seven times in his 31 /2 years on the tour but could sense how Sluman felt.

“I knew that he really wanted to win badly as soon as he could,” Roberts said.

Dana Quigley (68) and McNulty (70) tied for third at 205, six strokes behind Sluman and one ahead of John Cook (68).

Sluman’s last win was at the Greater Milwaukee Open on the PGA Tour in June 2002. And five days after he became eligible for the Champions Tour on his 50th birthday, he tied for 15th in his debut at the Greater Hickory Classic.

“I knew when I turned 50 in September, my game needed a lot of work,” Sluman said. “It was really in tatters.”

He finished no better than a 12th place tie in his five Champions tournaments last year and cracked the top 10 only once in his first six senior events this year.

But, he said, “I felt like I had enough game to win out here.”

On the first hole Sunday, Sluman made birdie to tie Roberts at 10 under. But Roberts held a one-stroke lead at 14 under through nine holes before Sluman tied him again with a birdie at the 10th.

Play was then suspended for 1 hour 42 minutes because of a thunderstorm that Sluman said didn’t seem to affect him.

“Everybody just kind of grabbed a plate of pasta and waited it out,” he said.

After play resumed, Sluman and Roberts made pars on each of the next four holes. Then Sluman perfected his stroke on the last four greens with the three birdies.

“That,” Roberts said, “is going to be hard to beat.”

He was the golfer on Saturday who sank a birdie at 18 to take the lead. By the time he made another one there Sunday, it was too late.

Sluman needed just 24 putts Sunday and played the last 43 holes with 14 birdies and no bogeys. He also had four birdies on the first five holes in the final round.

“I started off fast,” he said. “and finished fast.”

Notes: Tom Kite, who tied a tournament record with a first-round 63, hit his ball out of bounds on the 18th hole Sunday and shot a 76. He finished in a 20th-place tie at 5-under-211. … Defending champion Jay Haas, winner of the last two events on tour, also faded as the tournament progressed, shooting 68-72-75 for 215. … Roberts played in the event for the first time this year.

Final scores with relation to par and earniings from the Bank of America Open, played June 20-22 at the par-72, 6,741-yard Nashawtuc Country Club in Concord, Mass.:

1. Jeff Sluman $247,500
68-67-64–199

-17 2. Loren Roberts 145,200
68-66-67–201

-15 3. Dana Quigley 108,900
69-68-68–205

-11 3. Mark McNulty 108,900
65-70-70–205

-11 5. John Cook 79,200
70-68-68–206

-10 6. Keith Fergus 66,000
71-66-70–207

-9 7. Lonnie Nielsen 50,325
73-69-66–208

-8 7. Chip Beck 50,325
70-69-69–208

-8 7. John Morse 50,325
67-70-71–208

-8 7. Bobby Wadkins 50,325
69-67-72–208

-8 11. Scott Simpson 33,990
68-72-69–209

-7 11. Wayne Grady 33,990
71-68-70–209

-7 11. Bruce Summerhays 33,990
70-69-70–209

-7 11. Tom Jenkins 33,990
69-69-71–209

-7 11. Mark Wiebe 33,990
70-67-72–209

-7 16. Gary Hallberg 25,616
70-72-68–210

-6 16. Tom Purtzer 25,616
72-69-69–210

-6 16. Don Pooley 25,616
69-70-71–210

-6 16. Ron Streck 25,616
71-68-71–210

-6 20. Phil Blackmar 18,893
68-73-70–211

-5 20. R.W. Eaks 18,893
69-72-70–211

-5 20. Kirk Hanefeld 18,893
71-69-71–211

-5 20. David Eger 18,893
65-72-74–211

-5 20. Joey Sindelar 18,893
70-68-73–211

-5 20. Tom Kite 18,893
63-72-76–211

-5 26. Tom McKnight 14,025
69-72-71–212

-4 26. D.A. Weibring 14,025
73-68-71–212

-4 26. Hale Irwin 14,025
68-72-72–212

-4 26. Tim Simpson 14,025
73-71-68–212

-4 26. Mike Reid 14,025
68-71-73–212

-4 26. Massy Kuramoto 14,025
68-69-75–212

-4 32. Bob Gilder 9,818
71-71-71–213

-3 32. Bruce Lietzke 9,818
68-73-72–213

-3 32. Fulton Allem 9,818
71-72-70–213

-3 32. Bruce Vaughan 9,818
72-71-70–213

-3 32. Scott Hoch 9,818
69-71-73–213

-3 32. Leonard Thompson 9,818
73-71-69–213

-3 32. Mark W. Johnson 9,818
68-76-69–213

-3 32. Donnie Hammond 9,818
68-71-74–213

-3 32. Mark James 9,818
70-75-68–213

-3 32. Bruce Fleisher 9,818
74-72-67–213

-3 42. Dave Stockton 7,425
74-67-73–214

-2 42. James Mason 7,425
69-73-72–214

-2 42. Joe Ozaki 7,425
68-70-76–214

-2 45. Morris Hatalsky 5,775
72-70-73–215

-1 45. Jim Chancey 5,775
71-72-72–215

-1 45. Curtis Strange 5,775
70-71-74–215

-1 45. Hugh Baiocchi 5,775
72-71-72–215

-1 45. Jay Haas 5,775
68-72-75–215

-1 45. Gene Jones 5,775
73-70-72–215

-1 45. Denis Watson 5,775
73-73-69–215

-1 52. Dave Eichelberger 3,993
71-73-72–216

E 52. John Harris 3,993
70-70-76–216

E 52. Andy Bean 3,993
73-72-71–216

E 52. Fred Gibson 3,993
74-71-71–216

E 52. Allen Doyle 3,993
76-70-70–216

E 57. Brad Bryant 3,300
70-73-75–218
+ 2 57. Mitch Adams 3,300
72-68-78–218
+ 2 57. Gary Player 3,300
73-72-73–218
+ 2 60. Graham Marsh 2,723
70-72-77–219
+ 3 60. David Edwards 2,723
72-73-74–219
+ 3 60. Mike McCullough 2,723
73-72-74–219
+ 3 60. Walter Hall 2,723
74-73-72–219
+ 3 64. Jim Thorpe 2,228
73-72-75–220
+ 4 64. Mike Hulbert 2,228
73-75-72–220
+ 4 66. Ed Dougherty 1,898
72-72-77–221
+ 5 66. Jim Albus 1,898
73-73-75–221
+ 5 68. Jack Ferenz 1,551
77-69-76–222
+ 6 68. Tom Wargo 1,551
75-73-74–222
+ 6 68. Isao Aoki 1,551
75-75-72–222
+ 6 71. Dale Douglass 1,304
73-74-79–226
+ 10 71. Wayne Levi 1,304
80-73-73–226
+ 10 73. Graham Banister 1,155
76-76-75–227
+ 11 74. Dick Mast 1,089
73-83-72–228
+ 12 75. Jim Dent 1,023
75-77-77–229
+ 13 76. Jim Colbert 957
80-82-70–232
+ 16 77. Mark Morrison 891
79-80-75–234
+ 18 WD. Craig Stadler

73-76-WD

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