Three-time PGA Tour winner Kirk Triplett may have thought his best days were behind him, but the 49-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., converted his one-stroke 54-hole lead into his first victory on the Nationwide Tour on Sunday at the News Sentinel Open.
By the time the final group made its way to the first tee, there were 24 players within four strokes of the lead. Triplett fired a 4-under 68 in the final round to escape from the pack and post 21-under 267.
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Marco Dawson (68), who is 48 years old, finished two shots back at 19 under in solo second and moved from 52nd to 22nd on the Nationwide Tour money list. Californian John Mallinger (70) and lefty Ted Potter Jr. (69) finished three strokes back at 18-under and tied for third.
Triplett picked up his first Nationwide Tour victory in just his 12th career start and fifth of the year. He moved from 119th on the money list to No. 33.
“I’ve play a lot of years on Tour and I’m sort of in the twilight part of my career, but feeling those competitive juices down the stretch and seeing all these great young players made me feel a lot younger,” said Triplett, who earned his first PGA Tour victory in his 266th career start. “The quality of these golfers over the last 15-20 years has gotten better and better and the game is in great hands.”
Triplett’s final round began with six pars before rolling in his first birdie on the par-4 seventh hole. After making one more birdie on the front nine, he found himself tied with five others at 19 under par heading to the par-5 10th tee. It appeared to be anyone’s tournament for the taking, but Triplett kept to his guns and let the others make the mistakes.
“It was evolving really slowly today. There wasn’t anybody really making a move,” said Triplett, whose most recent win came at the PGA Tour’s 2006 Chrysler Classic of Tucson. “I just felt if I made a couple of birdies on the front and one or two more on the back, then the last three holes would sort it out, and that’s really what ended up happening.”
The 22-year PGA Tour veteran kept making pars on the back nine, coupled with a pair of birdies, as those around him buckled under the pressure. He came into the par-5 18th hole with a two-shot lead and decided to make the smart play and lay up. From there he struck a wedge to 20 feet, where he two-putted for par en route to collecting the first-place check of $90,000. His only bogeys of the week came on his second and third holes of the first round.
“I said it the other day, when I play out here I want to win and be competitive,” said the oldest winner in Nationwide Tour history at 49 years, four months and 29 days. “I came in here with the working man’s attitude. I want to work on my game and be sharp. All the practice and working out is great but nothing compares to being in the lead or near the lead in a golf tournament. It really shows what you’re capable of when you put yourself in that position.”
--Mathew Goggin, who has won twice this year, reclaimed the No. 1 spot on the money list after posting rounds of 71-63-68-70 to finish tied for eighth and collect $13,500. He now has $357,352 for the year, $6,345 ahead of No. 2 on the money list, J.J. Killeen, who fell to No. 2 on the money list after posting rounds of 67-72-68-74 to finish tied for 50th.
--Ted Potter Jr. was two strokes back entering Sunday and got off to a hot start. The South Georgia Classic winner made birdie on the first hole, then holed out for an eagle on the par-4 fourth hole with a wedge. The 27-year-old lefty proceeded to make a couple more birdies and held the lead at 20 under for seven holes before spoiling his chances to win after back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 14-15. Potter finished at 18-under 270 and finished tied for third.
--Martin Flores began the final-round tied for 22nd at 10 under par but fired a 7-under 65 to climb to 17-under 271 (tied for fifth).
-John Daly, who played on a sponsor’s exemption, recorded rounds of 70-65-74-68 to end at 11-under 277. He finished tied for 32nd.
--There were five bogey-free rounds in the final-round compared to seven Saturday, 21 in the second round and 17 in the first round. The par-4 15th hole was been the most-difficult hole at Fox Den Country Club with an average of 4.074. The par-5 first hole played the easiest with an average of 4.295. Sunday’s field scoring average was 70.758 compared to 70.418 Saturrday, 70.013 on Friday and 70.442 on Thursday. The cumulative four-day average was 70.336.
--Two-time PGA Tour winner Boo Weekley played in his first Nationwide Tour event since the 2006 Nationwide Tour Championship. He carded rounds of 70-67-68-72 to finish at 11-under par (tied for 32nd). Weekley has played in 19 PGA Tour events this year and missed the Playoffs for the FedExCup by finishing outside the top-125 in the point standings (157th).