Lehman wins 2nd straight Regions Tradition title
Sunday, June 10, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Tom Lehman won his second straight Regions Tradition, finishing the Champions Tour major with a 4-under 68 on Sunday to take a two-stroke victory.
Lehman overcame a near-constant drizzle and occasional heavy rains at Shoal Creek — plus hard charges by Bernhard Langer and Chien Soon Lu — for his sixth Champions Tour victory. Langer and Lu each finished with a 66 to share second behind Lehman's 14-under 274.
The former British Open champion, who shot in the 60s all four days, joins Jack Nicklaus, Gil Morgan and Fred Funk as the only players to win the Tradition multiple times. He played the final hole with his cap turned backward in the rain.
He's the first player to repeat in a senior major championship since Allen Doyle won the U.S. Senior Open in 2005 and 2006. Gil Morgan in 1997 is the only other Tradition winner to post four rounds in the 60s.
Lehman won $335,000 with his first victory since last year's Regions Tradition, a 13-month drought. Lehman is the 11th winner of 2012.
After beating Peter Senior in a playoff last year, Lehman didn't have to sweat this one out nearly as much on a brisk day that began with an early two-tee start and ended with storms closing in. Players were allowed to lift, clean and place the ball because of the conditions.
Lehman made long birdie putts on Nos. 7 and 12 after Langer briefly tied him at 9 under, pushing his lead to two strokes with a short birdie putt on the par-3 13th hole.
He bogeyed No. 17, but that added little drama since he avoided trouble on the 18th.
Lu, from Taiwan, had four birdies on the final nine holes. Lu was second at last year's Montreal Championship and the 2010 Tradition in Oregon and has been third four times. He had fallen back with a triple bogey on the final hole Saturday.
Langer, a two-time Masters winner, bogeyed Nos. 8 and 9 after starting 3 under through four holes. He wound up with a seventh top-five finish of the year and took over the Schwab Cup lead but is still seeking his first win. He missed several months last year, including this event, after left thumb surgery.
Lehman made too few mistakes to open the door.
"My goal was to get off to a good start and put pressure on him, to make him win the tournament and not let him have a three- or four-shot lead the whole day," said Langer, who hadn't played at Shoal Creek since the 1990 PGA Championship. "That would be too easy. ... But he responded extremely well to it."
Fred Couples closed with a tournament-low 65 and entered the final hole with four straight birdies but still finished four strokes back.
Russ Cochran and Bill Glasson, who led after each of the first two rounds, were five shots back. Jeff Sluman and Brad Bryant were six strokes behind. Sluman had eagled the par-5 No. 3 for the second straight day to move to 10 under, six of that coming from that hole.