2002: Senior PGA Tour - Senior Players proves to be Ginn’s tonic

Dearborn, Mich.

The Senior PGA Tour majors had a first-time feel this year as Jim Thorpe, Fuzzy Zoeller and Don Pooley all won their first majors.

Stewart Ginn made it 4-for-4 when his final-round 6-under-par 66 July 14 captured the Ford Senior Players Championship by one shot over three players at the TPC of Michigan.

Ginn (pronounced Jin) finished at 14-under 274 to top Thorpe (65), Mike McCullough (71) and Hubert Green (70).

“To win here for the first time in a major gives me a lot of satisfaction,” said Ginn, who becomes the 13th player in Senior Tour history to make a major his first victory. Zoeller (Senior PGA Champion-ship) and Pooley (U.S. Senior Open) also did it this year.

Ginn, 53, made four consecutive birdies on Nos. 10-13 to take the lead for good at 14 under.

“When I holed it at No. 17 and made the up and down at 16, I thought, ‘This is my week,’ ” said the Australian who joined the Senior Tour in 1999.

Ginn had an accurate drive at No. 18, but was short on a chip shot near the green. He made a short putt for bogey and the victory.

Thorpe, who won the season’s first major, The Countrywide Tradition, was making a bid to be the first player to win two majors in a year since 1998, when Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan won two each.

“I knew someone was going to come out of the pack,” said Thorpe, who started the round six shots behind third-round leader McCullough. “I just felt like Hubert and Mike had already used up their big round of the weekend.”

On Saturday, Thorpe felt he still had a chance.

“At six (back), you’re still in this,” Thorpe said then. “Even if you have a lead late, you can’t get too comfortable. If you miss the fairway on 16, 17 or 18, those holes can give you a double bogey.”

On Sunday, Thorpe went out and proved it. He shot 6-under 30 on the front nine, then a birdie at 12 gave him the lead briefly at 13 under. He parred the final six holes. Thorpe was 15 under after his first-round 74.

Holding a one-shot lead through 54 holes, McCullough knew what he had to do to win.

“I would like to shoot four rounds in the 60s, that should do it,” McCullough said following the third round. “If I can shoot four rounds in the 60s, I will be very happy that the golf course didn’t defeat me.”

If McCullough had posted 69, he would have won by one shot.

Green, a three-time Senior Tour winner, held the second-round lead after tying the course record with 63, and entered the final round one behind McCullough. On Sunday, Green needed a little help.

“All we could do is hope he would throw it up, and he didn’t,” Green said of Ginn.

Ginn hadn’t finished better than a tie for third this year at the Legends of Golf in April. Since then, he’s finished as low as a tie for 69th – at the Senior PGA Championship – and no better than a tie for 17th.

Ginn just laughs when people say he looks like Steven Spielberg. “If it could help me get reservations or tables or get me into movies looking like him, that’s fine,” he said. “I kind of find it quite funny, actually.”

Has Ginn ever gained such special privileges because he looks like Spielberg?

“Not yet, but I might now,” he joked.

Regardless, he now will be recognized as a Senior Tour major champion, a close encounter of the best kind.

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