2005: Champions Tour - Jugglin’ Jake
Not bad for a part-timer.
Peter Jacobsen, who bounces back and forth between the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour, made a senior-circuit stop and came home with a major championship. In fact, he harkened back to recent experience on the PGA Tour to help him win the Ford Senior Players Championship at the TPC of Michigan.
Jacobsen made a birdie putt out of a collection area on the 16th – where he had a flashback to last month’s U.S. Open – then outlasted Hale Irwin July 10 to win the Senior Players Championship by a stroke.
“It didn’t scare me because I did it all week at Pinehurst,” said Jacobsen, who tied for 15th three weeks ago in the U.S. Open.
The 51-year-old Jacobsen won his second senior major in less than year, finishing at 15 under after closing with a 6-under 66.
After Jacobsen’s crucial putt, 14 feet up a steep incline, he two-putted from 80 feet for birdie at the 17th to surge past Irwin. Jacobsen, who was three groups ahead of Irwin, waited and watched as the three-time U.S. Open champion tried to catch him.
Irwin came up inches short on a 13-foot birdie try on No. 17. Then, after a great approach on the final hole, the 60-year-old narrowly missed a 12-footer.
“I expected him to make that putt, and we were going to go back down 18 for a playoff,” Jacobsen said.
Irwin, who also lipped out a 4-footer for par on the 12th, finished with a 70 after shooting three consecutive 68s. Irwin bemoaned missing five key putts after
making the turn, but especially the near-
misses on the last two holes.
“Those putts were no-brainers,” he said. “Unfortunately, I guess I don’t have a brain.”
Five-time British Open champion Tom Watson (68) and Tom McKnight (71) tied
for third at 12 under.
Jacobsen, who won the 2003 Greater Hartford Open for the last of his seven PGA Tour titles, won the U.S. Senior Open last August at Bellerive for his only other victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Playing in his 13th Champions Tour event in two years, he dropped to 9 under with a bogey on No. 5 before closing strong with six birdies in a 12-hole stretch to take the lead.
“I knew I had to be aggressive, so I was aiming for the pins,” he said.
Jacobsen was proud about outlasting Irwin.
“There’s nobody you’d rather beat than a great player,” he said. “Hale has dominated the Champions Tour like no one else will.”
Jacobsen earned $375,000 for
his fourth top-6 finish in four appearances in Champions Tour majors. Jacobsen, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer are the only players who won their first two senior events in majors.
For now, Jacobsen said he plans to continue to alternate between tours, but says he will cut down soon.
“I think that strengthens the Champions Tour, to have guys playing both tours,” he said.
Jay Haas, another 51-year-old who plays both tours, didn’t fare as well, tying for 18th at 7 under, but he says the alternating schedule suits him just fine.
“I would like to continue to do both,” Haas said. “I can’t say to myself, ‘You can’t play (on the PGA Tour) anymore. You have to play on the Senior Tour more.’ It’s hard to let go for me. When I’m playing my best, I feel like I can play on the PGA Tour.”
Haas has played in three Champions Tour events this season after playing in three last year. Haas, no doubt, will increase his Champions Tour appearances as
his age advances.
And Jacobsen says he plans to play in just one more PGA Tour event (Funai Classic, Oct. 20-23) this year and instead concentrate on the senior circuit.
Jacobsen, however, will play neither tour this weekend. He’ll escort his daughter, Amy, down the aisle at her wedding.
“Everything, including this win,” he said, “takes a back seat to that.”
– Staff and wire reports