Loren Roberts was facing a pair of fellow 40-somethings just as hungry for a return to the winner’s circle. But instead of making late mistakes like Fred Couples and Fred Funk, Roberts started living up to his nickname.
“The Boss of the Moss” rolled in birdies on four of the last six holes Sept. 29 to survive a final-round charge from Couples and Funk for a three-stroke Texas Open victory.
Roberts’ triumph was his first since the 2000 Greater Milwaukee Open, and he became the oldest winner on the PGA Tour since Tom Watson won the Colonial in 1998 at age 48.
Roberts’ late run gave him a final-round 64 and a 19-under-par 261 total, three shots ahead of Couples, Funk and 28-year-old Garrett Willis.
“This could be the sweetest because I’m 47 this year,” Roberts said. “For me, I feel like I really turned the calendar back a little bit.”
Couples and Funk, who also had 6-under 64s Sunday, were trying to do the same.
Couples arrived at LaCantera a few days shy of his 43rd birthday (Oct. 3) and coming off a six-week break that rested his chronically bad back. He hadn’t won since the 1998 Memorial – and had just one top-10 finish in the last two years. Funk is having a renaissance of sorts at age 46, with three runner-up finishes and two other top 5s in 2002, but still was seeking his first title since the 1998 Deposit Guaranty Classic.
Couples and Funk briefly caught Roberts on the leaderboard. Funk birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 13 to take the lead, and Couples matched him at 17 under with four consecutive birdies starting on the 13th.
But late bogeys cost both players.
Funk’s mistake came on the 380-yard, par-4 16th, where he three-putted from 45 feet. Until then, he hadn’t had a bogey in 39 holes.
“I want to win so bad,” Funk said. “That’s what’s disappointing.”
Couple’s error came on the 186-yard 17th. He landed his drive in the rough behind the green, left his pitch short, then missed a 20-foot par putt.
Still, Couples was happy to be back in the hunt. “I’m thrilled to death,” he said. “I don’t even know the last tournament I had a shot at winning.”
But even he wasn’t sure how long it would last. “If I don’t get better,” he said, “I won’t do this very often. There’s just no way I can compete.”
Roberts was flawless down the stretch. He birdied 13 and 14 to get to 17 under. After a par on 15, he made a 12-foot birdie putt on 16, then sank a 13-footer for birdie on 17.
J.L. Lewis (42), Joel Edwards (40) and Bob Tway (43) also finished in the top 10.
“This is a thinking man’s golf course,” Roberts said. “Obviously, my game is based more on accuracy and I can make some putts.
“I think the older guys still have something to show the young guys.”