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For the first time in a long while, Nick Price felt competitive in a big-time golf event. (Photo: Getty Images)
For the first time in a long while, Nick Price felt competitive in a big-time golf event. (Photo: Getty Images)

Despite finish, Price sees light at end of tunnel

Nick Price left the Ocean Course with his luggage, clubs, memories and lot of optimism. But no Alfred S. Bourne Trophy. Still, the Champions Tour rookie was encouraged by his third-place finish in the Senior PGA Championship.

By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. -- Shortly before Argentina's Eduardo Romero left the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island to sleep on his two-shot 54-hole Senior PGA Championship lead on Saturday, he admitted that of the two men lurking behind, he was worried about one -- Nick Price.

Despite the fact that Price hasn't seriously contended in a tournament since the 2005 EDS Byron Nelson Championship on the PGA TOUR and his best finish in six starts on the Champions Tour was a tie for seventh, Romero was aware that the old, dominating Price could strike at any time on Sunday.

Crazy thing is it never happened. Instead, the guy who wasn't the most famous Watson in the field or the most famous Zimbabwean for that matter -- Denis Watson -- snuck up and snatched his first win in 23 years.

"Denis played very good," Romero said. "Denis is a great champion. Very fantastic today. Fantastic. And then he make good putts for pars and good putts for birdies. But I look to Nick, I'm watching Nick. But I never, I wasn't thinking of Denis. But when Denis make birdie and birdie and was close to me and I thought well, now it's Denis. But I'm watching Nick."
 
Everyone was watching Nick, who never factored into the outcome, shooting a 1-under-par 71 for sole third when low scores were there for the taking. Perhaps it shouldn't be as much of a surprise since Price hasn't contended in so long, but the thinking was that despite Romero's two-shot lead, Price and his three-time major champion status would make him the man to beat. Even still, he left Kiawah Island more optimistic than disappointed.

"For a long time, probably the last two years, I haven't been able to see any light at the end of the tunnel," Price said. "And now there's a nice bright glow there. And I'm really pleased with the way I played this week and I didn't back off. I had a couple of poor shots at the end of the back nine or the front nine this morning, when we made the turn.  But other than that, I kept going. And I'm happy. I could have won if I hadn't made any mistakes, but Denis, my hat's off to him, he played pretty much flawlessly."

While he didn't walk away with a win, the 50-year-old Price did walk off with his best career finish on the Champions Tour.

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