Bruce Summerhays made a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole Sunday to avert a three-way playoff and win the inaugural State Farm Senior Classic.
Summerhays, who started the day three strokes off the pace, shot a 69 for a 10-under-par 206 total. His second Senior PGA Tour victory in 96 events earned him a career-best paycheck of $187,000.Hale Irwin shot a 3-under 69 and finished in a second-place tie with Walter Hall at 207. Irwin collected $100,000 to pass Greg Norman and become the leading career money winner among PGA players. He has amassed $12,030,109 over his professional golf career.
Irwin went three under on the back nine, and for a while it seemed as if his birdie on 18 would be good enough to get him into a playoff. But Summerhays wouldn't let it happen.
"I did not have the game I needed to really and truly contend," Irwin said. "I knew somebody would birdie the other hole other than me."
Summerhays, 54, became the 15th different tournament winner on the Senior PGA Tour this year. His wild round included seven birdies and four bogeys, but he saved the best for last - his dramatic putt on 18 enabled him to pull away from a logjam atop the leaderboard that included a dozen golfers.
Hall made four birdies on the front nine and added another on 12 to go 10 under, but he bogeyed 13 and finished with five straight pars.
"I had some good chances today," Hall said. "If I get into the hunt again, maybe lightning will strike. I'll just keep trying."
Seven players finished eight under, including David Graham, the co-leader with Tom Jenkins after the second round. Graham, who shot a 74, missed several putts from under 10 feet and lost his share of the lead on No. 16 when he sent an 8-foot birdie putt past the cup and missed the 3-foot comebacker.
Graham started the round in horrid fashion, yanking his tee shot on No. 1 under a tall pine tree to the right of the fairway. Using a 5-iron and crouching like a catcher, he hit the ball about 20 feet and subsequently took a bogey to fall out of the lead.
He bogeyed No. 4 but rebounded with a birdie on the 507-yard par-5 5th, blasting out of a bunker before sinking a 6-foot putt. A 35-foot chip for a birdie on No. 8 put Graham in the lead, but his 3-foot par putt on No. 9 lipped the cup.
Jenkins, a senior rookie who led after the first round and shared the lead after the second round with Graham at 10 under, was four over on the front nine and finished with a 79.Jenkins began his fade on No. 2 when he overshot the green and chipped 15 feet past the hole en route to a bogey. He missed a 2-footer for a bogey on 4 and took another bogey on the following hole after he hooked his tee shot outside the cart path and shanked his next shot.
Terry Dill, who began a stroke behind the co-leaders, hit successive 4-foot birdie putts on Nos. 2 and 3 to take command at 11 under. But he had par putts lip out of the cup on Nos. 5 and 6, then missed a 7-footer on 8 for another bogey.
Dill shot a 73 to finish in the pack at 208 that included Jim Albus, Leonard Thompson, Bob Duval, Dave Stockton and Hubert Green.
Greater Hartford Open
CROMWELL, Conn. - Olin Browne made a 40-foot chip-in birdie on the first playoff hole Sunday to beat Larry Mize and defending champion Stewart Cink and win the Greater Hartford Open, his first PGA Tour victory.
The playoff followed the stunning collapse of Mize, who had a four-stroke lead going to the 15th hole after stringing together birdies on Nos. 11-14 to stand at 18 under par.
But on the par-4, 296-yard 15th, he shanked a 5-iron deep into the woods and, after several minutes of searching, found his unplayable ball and had to tee it up again. He took a double-bogey on that hole and missed a 1-foot par putt on No. 16.
By the time he reached the final hole, the 1987 Masters champion was clinging to a one-stroke lead over Browne and Cink. But his approach shot rolled off the back of the green and his chip left him with about a 15-foot putt that he narrowly missed for par and a 1-under 69.
Despite his swoon, Mize maintained a bit of optimism as he, Browne and Cink all set the GHO 72-hole scoring record of 14-under 266.
"I've had a lot of good breaks in my time, and you know this one didn't work out my way. But this week encourages me to just keep working hard," Mize said.
Browne, who became the sixth first-time winner on tour this year, finished with a 67 that was marked by four birdies and a double-bogey on the 462-yard, par-4 10th. His birdie at No. 16 put him 14 under and in contention for the playoff.
"I had a good week and I played well all four days and I think that's what it takes. You can't have a skittish round out here, the guys are so good," he said.
Cink, who also shot a 67, was 13 under when he birdied the signature 17th hole to reserve his spot for the playoff.
His approach shot on the 444-yard, par-4 18th, which was used as the playoff hole, rolled across the green and into the left fringe about pin high. Mize reached the green in three and could only watch at that point. Cink, bidding to become the first repeat GHO winner, had an opportunity to tie but his 15-foot birdie putt rolled wide.
Browne won $360,000 to increase his career earnings to $1,196,817.