KENT, Wash. -- Erik Hanson joked that Jeff Coston ruined his birthday.
Hanson, the former Mariners pitcher, turned 51 Wednesday and was in position to win the Muckleshoot Casino Washington Open Invitational at Meridian Valley Country Club in a field full of players 20 or 30 years younger than him. But it wasn't one of the young guys Hanson had to worry about it.
It was the 60-year-old Coston, who spent last year on the Champions Tour, and who won his fifth Washington Open title with a dramatic birdie on the par-5 18th hole. He hit a 74-yard wedge over the bunker to about 2 feet, and calmly knocked that putt in for a one-shot win over Hanson and defending champion Darren Black.
It was the 20th major victory for Coston, from Semiahmoo Golf & Country Club in Blaine, who finished at 7-under 209. His last Northwest major win came in the 2010 Washington Open.
"Twenty is my age, man," joked Coston, who is the oldest known winner of the Washington Open, which began in 1922. "I'm 20. Twenty times three. I'm 20 from the neck down, but I'm a grandpa from the neck up. It means a lot because 60 has been a hard number for me, but I don't know if it means more than the others."
Coston said he never doubted that he would win another Northwest major. It looked like it might be an easy win when he had a three-shot lead at 10-under with nine holes left, but he made a bogey on his 10th hole and a double bogey on his 14th hole and suddenly it was Hanson in the lead by a shot.
On the next hole, Hanson looked like he might extend the lead, but a loud boom scared him just before he struck his putt from just off the green.
"I felt like a shotgun went off," he said. "I flinched on it and just smashed right through the break and hit it 8 to 9 feet past. I had a really hard second putt, and I thought made that one, but it just didn't go in."
Hanson, an amateur from Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, and Coston both made bogey on that par-3, keeping Hanson's lead at one. Hanson also made a bogey on his 16th hole, and the two were tied at 6 under. A couple of groups ahead, Black finished with a birdie to get to 6 under and suddenly there was a three-way tie.
Coston saved a par on the 17th with an excellent long bunker shot to about a foot, while Hanson missed a birdie putt by a fraction of an inch.
"That (bunker shot) was tough, but I have experience," Coston said. "I have a lot of miles behind me, but they're highway miles and I change my oil regularly."
That left Hanson and Coston tied for the lead (with Black) entering the final hole. In 2004 at the Northwest Open, Hanson and Coston were a also tied for the lead going to the par-5 final hole.
Hanson won that event 12 years ago. Coston got his revenge Wednesday even if it wasn't easy as it could have been.
"All I remember is the last hole," he said. "I remember a nice drive, a pure second shot and stuffing that thing. That's what I want to remember. I made some mistakes that I usually don't because I'm a strong finisher. But I'm just going to think about that last hole."
For Hanson, it was his fourth runner-up finish in this event.
"I played well, but he's in great shape and he knows how to play golf," Hanson said of Coston. "He's a great player."
This article was written by Scott Hanson from Seattle Times and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.
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