Allen Doyle Is Senior Players Champ
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) _ Allen Doyle faced a lot of long putts during the Senior Players Championship. He made only one, but it was the right one to make.
Doyle, the former college hockey player who turned pro in 1995 after a successful amateur career, won the Senior Players Championship on Sunday on the first hole of a playoff with Doug Tewell. Doyle forced sudden death with a 35-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole in the final senior major of the year.
``I had rolled those good all week, but hadn’t made anything,″ he said. ``I figured, `What the hell. Why don’t I make one now.′ Those are the ones that you see on TV, but they never happen to you.″
Doyle, who shot a 5-under 67 to match Tewell at 15-under 273, won his second major and sixth overall title on the senior tour. The playoff was just the second in tournament history.
Tewell, who shot a 66, saw his chances for victory slip away on the extra hole when his tee shot went wide left and landed in wetlands. Tewell bogeyed the playoff hole, while Doyle parred.
``I kind of felt like I shut the door on Allen, but he birdied,″ said Tewell of the final hole of regulation. ``But I’m happy I’m getting my game back. I wasn’t going to play next week, but I’ve committed to play in Chicago. This really ticks me off that I lost.″
Irwin shot 66 to finish third at 12 under.
Irwin and Watson were the 36-hole leaders at 9 under, but Irwin’s 75 Saturday after double bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 proved to be too much to overcome. Watson (73) finished at 8 under.
``If you had told me I would have three rounds of 65, 66 and 70 _ I would’ve been thrilled,″ Irwin said. ``I just wasn’t expecting the 75 that killed me.″
U.S. Open Champion Bruce Fleisher (68) and Ed Dougherty (73) tied for fourth at 10 under. Defending champion Ray Floyd (70) and Mike McCullough (69) were 9 under.
Lee Trevino, the 61-year-old star playing in his final major, shot a 74 for a 2-over 290 total.
Doyle tied for fifth or better in five of his six previous tournaments. He lost a playoff to John Schroeder in the NFL Golf Classic in June.
Doyle played in the Walker Cup, an amateur version of the Ryder Cup, in 1991 and 1993. He lost in the semifinals of the 1992 U.S. Amateur to Justin Leonard.
In 1996, he became the oldest rookie ever on the PGA Tour at 47. Three years later, he joined the Senior Tour.
``You can’t fathom where I’ve come from,″ Doyle said. ``It still blows my mind that this is my office, here at a golf course. You don’t lose touch with that and don’t forget that you’re one of the luckiest guys in the world. Am I one up on everybody or what?″
His awkward swing is not a thing of beauty, which he blames on practicing in a room with a low ceiling growing up in Massachusetts.
Doyle doesn’t wear a golf glove because he said he couldn’t afford one when he started playing as a teen-ager and doesn’t figure he needs one now.
While his peers were playing collegiate golf, Doyle was playing hockey at Norwich University, where he is a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.
Doyle knows the only way he’ll go the Golf Hall of Fame will be as a visitor _ unlike many of his peers _ but he relished winning a senior major against the best golfers over 50 in the world.
``It’s huge,″ he said. ``No one can take that from me. No one.″
He also enjoys that the galleries following him will never rival those surrounding Irwin, Watson or Jack Nicklaus, who withdrew from the tournament after 27 holes because of a herniated disk and pulled right hamstring.
``I have my little niche here and I realize that,″ Doyle said. ``People are always going to see me as an underdog. But I like playing in the shadows.″
Divots: Doyle’s victory moved him from fourth to second in the Charles Schwab Cup points race with 1,535 points. Doyle trails Fleisher by 61 points and is ahead of Larry Nelson, Irwin and Gil Morgan. ... If Tewell could’ve held on to win, he would’ve been a U.S. Senior Open championship away from a career Senior Grand Slam. Jack Nicklaus is the only player to win all four senior majors.