Kirk Triplett wins Nature Valley First Tee Open for second straight year

Kirk Triplett at the Nature Valley First Tee Open
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Kirk Triplett won the Nature Valley First Tee Open on Sunday by overcoming a three-shot deficit, after winning last year by overcoming a four-shot deficit.
By
James Raia
Associated Press

Series: Champions Tour

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Kirk Triplett successfully defended his Nature Valley First Tee Open title Sunday at Pebble Beach, closing with a 4-under 68 for a two-stroke victory over Doug Garwood and Dan Forsman. 

Three strokes behind leader Tom Lehman entering the round, Triplett finished at 11-under 205 for his second career Champions Tour title. Last year, the three-time PGA Tour winner overcame a four-shot deficit. 

"Last year was a dream come true to win for the first time at Pebble Beach," said Triplett who had a bogey-free final round and seven consecutive birdies on par 5s in the last two rounds. "To do it again, I am a bit overwhelmed. Last year, I was just so excited. This year, I am almost teary-eyed." 

Garwood, a Monday qualifier making his fourth career start on the 50-and-over tour, and Forsman each shot 69. Lehman was fourth at 8 under after a 74. 

Triplett held two-shot advantage over Garwood, Forsman and Lehman with three holes left, but had to scramble. He hit his tee shot into the rough on the par-4 16th and saved his par after chipping to 2 feet. 

Triplett hit his tee shot on the par-3 17th into a bunker, and saved par again to remain two shots ahead. 

"I had a couple of unfortunate breaks," Forsman said. "I bogeyed eight, which is likely because it's such a difficult hole and that took some of the wind out of my sails. But I had a couple of birdies on the back nine to stabilize things, and I am pleased with the way I played." 

After an opening round 67 at Del Monte, Triplett followed with a second-round 70 at Pebble Beach. He had only three bogeys in the tournament. 

"I've played the 20 AT&T and 20 Callaway events and a couple of U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach," Triplett said. "I knew it would be a dogfight. But I just have a great affinity for the place." 

Triplett earned $280,000 in the $1.8 million event. 

Bernhard Langer opened with a 63 at Del Monte, then shot consecutive 74s to finish eighth at 5 under.