Fort Worth, Texas
Nick Price said his four years without a PGA Tour victory felt like 10. Thanks to a brilliant back-nine stretch at the Colonial, the drought is over.
Price, who is putting together a consistent 2002 season at age 45, entered the final round May 19 with a five-stroke lead and finished it the same way.
Although he looked catchable at times on the front nine, he birdied Nos. 11, 12 and 14 to regain control over David Toms and Kenny Perry, who had pulled within two strokes at the turn. Price, the only player with four sub-par rounds, had a final-round 67 to finish at 13-under 267. Toms and Perry tied for second at 8-under 272.
Price said his confidence had suffered during the winless stretch.
“I didn’t think this day was going to come,” said Price, whose last Tour title came at the 1998 FedEx St. Jude Classic. “That self-doubt has been cast away now. There’s not pressure anymore on me to win because I’ve proven it to myself.
“I’ve had six or seven chances in the last two years (but) something always seemed to go wrong.”
Price might have been getting that same feeling after back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth holes Sunday, but he steadied himself with a pep talk after hitting his drive on No. 7 into the rough.
“I had a chat with myself walking down No. 7,” Price said. “I said, ‘I’m not going to make any more mistakes. That’s it. I’m just going to make birdies and pars.’ And I did. Sometimes you just reach deep down.”
Price sank a 35-foot putt for birdie on the 609-yard 11th hole then made another long birdie putt on the par-4 12th. After a par at No. 13, he put the tournament out of reach on No. 14, chipping in for a birdie after his second shot went over the green.
As Price was going lower, Perry and Toms were losing strokes. Perry bogeyed the 14th, and Toms double-bogeyed No. 15 after hitting into a bunker and blasting over the green.
“I thought I had a shot, but Nick just kept making birdies,” Perry said. “He was cruising.”
Dudley Hart finished fourth at 273 after a final-round 65, and Davis Love III and Phil Tataurangi tied for fifth at 274. It matched Love’s best finish of the year.
The $774,000 top prize, Price’s biggest paycheck on Tour, gave him more than $1.63 million in earnings this year – his Tour-record ninth $1 million season – and put him No. 5 on the money list. He also moved over the $16 million mark in career earnings.
This season has been one of his most consistent since he finished No. 1 in earnings in both 1993 and 1994 – the latter a year in which he won six titles, including the British Open, PGA Championship and the Colonial. He has six top-10 finishes in 10 events in 2002.
“I’m happy to play well, finish in the top 10 and compete, but there’s nothing like winning,” Price said. “That’s what has been frustrating. There has always been one bad round that throws me out of contention.”
Not at the Colonial.