2005: Champions Tour - Purtzer makes up for lost chances
Friday, September 23, 2011
After two near-misses at the 3M Championship, Tom Purtzer wasn’t going to let it happen again.
Purtzer holed a 7-foot par putt on the final hole Aug. 7 for a one-stroke victory, his first on the Champions Tour since March 2004.
It didn’t come without thoughts about his past two visits to the 3M, when he was the leader entering the final round but shot 74 both times.
“I tried to stay positive and tried not to think about what happened here the last two years,” said Purtzer, who tied for third last year and tied for 10th in 2003. “All I wanted to do was play good golf. If someone had a great round and beat me, that’s OK. I just didn’t want to beat myself like I did the last two years.”
Purtzer was aware of the situation following Friday’s first round.
“I like this golf course but I’ve managed to fritter away a win here each of the last two years,” Purtzer said. “I don’t try to go out and screw up the last day. I figure one of these years I may sneak through and win here.”
Purtzer’s lead after the second round was three shots, but it was down to one as he went to the 18th tee at the TPC of the Twin Cities.
Purtzer left his 20-foot birdie putt on No. 18 short by 7 feet, but he made the par save to close a 3-under 69 and avoid a playoff with a 15-under 201 total.
He said he didn’t hole a putt of more than 10 feet all tournament. Purtzer has said it’s his putting that has kept him from being a top-10 player on the Champions Tour.
“I wasn’t overly nervous on the last putt, which is kind of a first for me,” said Purtzer, who last won at the Toshiba Senior Classic in 2004. “There were times in the past when my heart has been beating out of my chest. I just had two thoughts – stay still, and make sure the putter goes through the ball. I thought I left it short, but it got to the cup on my last roll.”
Six weeks ago, Purtzer missed a 6-foot putt on the final hole of regulation that would have won the Bank of America Classic. He lost in a playoff to Mark McNulty.
Lonnie Nielsen and Craig Stadler tied for second at 14 under.
Nielsen eagled No. 18 with a long putt for a 67 that gave him his best finish on either tour. He didn’t finish in the top four in six years on the PGA Tour (1978-83) and didn’t finish that high in 32 starts on the Champions Tour.
Stadler shot a 67 and finished second for the second consecutive year.
The $262,500 winner’s check gave Purtzer $850,000 this year. He’s on pace to post his best season since joining the over-50 tour in 2002.
Purtzer opened with a 9-under 63 that included a hole-in-one and matched the low round in tournament history.
“Someone dropped a bottle as I was ready to hit on (205-yard) No. 8 so I backed off the ball,” Purtzer said Friday. “I stepped back in, tried to be positive, hit it, and it came off the club just the way I wanted it to. But I’m as surprised as anybody it went in. You don’t ever expect a tee shot to disappear into the hole.”
Purtzer became just the third first-round leader or co-leader to win in the 13-year history of the tournament.
“That means a lot to lead wire to wire, which I’ve never done before,” Purtzer said. “There’s a special satisfaction in the heat of battle when guys are coming after you and you still hit good shots.”