2002: Hayes bags Deere victory

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Silvis, Ill.

J.P. Hayes had no doubt his second PGA Tour victory would come. To him, it was just a matter of when.

That question was answered July 28, when Hayes shot a final-round 67 for a four-shot victory over Robert Gamez in the John Deere Classic.

Hayes, whose only previous Tour title came in the 1998 Buick Classic, set a tournament record with a 22-under-par 262 total at the TPC at Deere Run, breaking the old mark of 21-under 259 set in 1993 by David Frost on the par-70 Oakwood Country Club course.

“I always believed I’d win again,” Hayes said. “I’m going to go out and give it 110 percent every tournament, and that will never change.”

Hayes was helped greatly by his 10-under 61 in the second round, the lowest score on Tour this season. Six players had shot 62s.

To Hayes, though, his final-round 67 was just as nice. He hit 17 of 18 greens and 13 of 14 fairways.

“I felt very good from the start,” Hayes said. “I got off to a good start, and with Robert struggling from the start, it gave me more confidence. I kind of surprised myself a little bit in that I never really missed a golf shot today. Every shot I hit was pleasing to the eye.”

Ironically, Hayes’ only bogey of the week came in his second-round 61, on the par-4 eighth hole.

“I didn’t think I have ever gone that many holes or played a tournament with that few bogeys,” said Hayes, who earned $540,000. “It was a pretty steady week.”

Gamez, seeking his first victory since his rookie year of 1990, shot 5-under 66 Saturday to tie Hayes for the lead, but never got untracked in the final round. Gamez bogeyed the par-5 second hole to fall three strokes back of Hayes, who birdied Nos. 1 and 2, and Gamez never threatened again, finishing with an even-par 71.

Gamez birdied No. 17 to break a tie with Kirk Triplett and finish alone in second. Triplett was third at 17-under 267 after a final-round 66.

Pat Perez birdied five of the first seven holes to close within five shots of the lead. But he was even par the rest of the way en route to 66 and 16 under.

For the 34-year-old Gamez, it was his best finish since a tie for second in this tournament in 1997, and comes on the heels of his tie for third at last week’s B.C. Open. He has four top-10 finishes this season, possibly marking a breakthrough that has been more than a decade in the making for the 1990 Rookie of the Year.

“I played hard all day,” Gamez said. “I hit a lot of good shots out there that just didn’t turn out. J.P. played great for two days. He played a lot better than I did. It was nice to see somebody play well and win instead of me playing poorly and losing.”

– From staff and wire reports

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