Final-hole birdie gives Roberts one- shot win at Dick's Sporting Goods

Champions Tour, Dick's Sporting Goods Open, Loren Roberts
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This was the 12th victory on the Champions Tour for 54-year-old Loren Roberts.
By
AP

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Loren Roberts figured he'd be lucky to force a playoff in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open after making bogey at No. 17.

"When I did that, I still thought I was still going to be a chaser," Roberts said. "I thought there went my chance there. We're walking to the 18th tee and I asked my caddie, 'What's everybody doing?' I hadn't see a board."

The leaderboard said there was a three-way tie at 14 under. "That kind of pricked my ears up a little bit," he said.

Roberts responded with a birdie on the 18th hole to finish at 15-under 201 for a one-shot victory over Fred Funk on a hot, humid Sunday.

Roberts pounded his final drive within 125 yards of the pin at the par-4, 419-yard closing hole at En-Joie Golf Club. He then hit pitching wedge 7 feet left of the cup to set up his final putt. Roberts, who just turned 55, and Funk both shot 65 on Sunday.

"It's a very satisfying day for me, especially to come back from that bogey and get the win was huge," Roberts said of his 12th victory on the Champions Tour.

Local favorite Wayne Levi (69) tied for third at 13 under with Nick Price (68) and Dan Forsman (71), who bogeyed three of the final five holes to lose the lead he held for most of the day.

Ken Green, who shot an impressive 2-over 74 on Saturday as he adjusts to the game wearing a prosthetic device on his lower right leg, withdrew Sunday morning because of pain and said he would not play next week in Montreal.

This was Forsman's tournament to win, but after making one bogey over the first two rounds he self-destructed at the end with three bogeys over the final five holes.

"Anytime you're leading, it's never easy," said Forsman, who won the Regions Charity Classic in mid-May and has seven top-10s in 12 starts this year. "It just started to unravel. You compound that with the emotional fatigue and the psychological and physiological fatigue, it's tough."

Forsman made a pretty 8-foot putt that broke left-to-right and into the hole for birdie at No. 11 to vault into sole possession of the lead at 15 under.

Moments later, Roberts holed a 25-yard chip from the rough for eagle at No. 12 to begin his surge, and followed that with birdies on the next two holes to move into contention.

"You make an eagle and you follow with another birdie, that really gives you some momentum," Roberts said. "I just kind of caught that momentum."

Forsman reached 16 under with a birdie putt from inside 2 feet at No. 12 that he nearly missed. He then made bogey at the par-3 14th hole, running a 25-foot putt to within 2 feet of the hole but missing the easy par putt.

"My putting has been a little bit of an issue," Forsman said. "I think that's what happened down the stretch. I just wasn't popping the putter as well."

It was the second straight bogey at 14 for Forsman, and his struggles continued at the next hole when he hit a poor drive, hit his second shot into a greenside bunker and made bogey again.

Roberts birdied No. 16 to gain the lead by a shot but returned the favor at the par-3 17th hole when he drove the rough behind the green and was unable to get up and down.

The five-shot lead Forsman had held over Roberts had vanished so fast, and when he went to the tee at 16 Forsman was in a three-way tie for the lead, with Price and Levi just a shot behind.

Funk, who started the day five shots off the lead, had four birdies on the front nine as he took advantage of ideal scoring conditions, and his third birdie on the back side, at No. 16, left him within one shot of the lead. Funk drove the green at the par-4, but left his downhill try for eagle just short. He parred the final two holes and watched Roberts win it from the scorer's tent.

"It feels good to be in the hunt coming down the stretch. I was real pleased," said Funk, who has five wins on the Champions Tour and eight on the PGA Tour. "There's nothing to feel bad about, that's for sure."

Forsman began the day with a one-shot lead over Brad Bryant and was immediately distracted on the par-4 opening hole. Lying 8 feet from the pin after two shots, Forsman had to pull away from his birdie attempt when a yellow butterfly landed on the face of his putter. When he resumed his stance, the butterfly briefly alighted on the cup before flying away, and he missed the putt.

Forsman rallied with birdies at both par 5s on the front nine, lipped out a birdie try at No. 9, and made the turn tied with Price at 14 under.


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