Eger defeats Kite by three
SNOQUALMIE, Wash. -- David Eger once was responsible for setting up golf courses -- locating pins and marking tee boxes -- for PGA Tour pros.
Now, he's a two-time winner on the Champions Tour.
The 53-year-old Eger, a former PGA Tour and USGA administrator, won his second Champions Tour title, shooting a final-round 67 Sunday in the inaugural Boeing Greater Seattle Classic.
"I've always said there are a handful of stars out here, but there are also 70 or so very good players who could always win," Eger said. "If you're good enough to play out here, you're good enough to win."
Eger finished at 17-under 199 for the 54-hole tournament, taking a $240,000 paycheck from the $1.6 million purse. He was three strokes ahead of runner-up Tom Kite, whose final-round 67 put him at 14 under.
Eger is a three-time Walker Cup member and two-time U.S. Amateur semifinalist. He won his only previous Champions Tour victory on another first-time course at the 2003 MasterCard Classic in Mexico City.
John Harris and Brad Bryant tied at 13 under, while Morris Hatalsky was next at 12 under. Then came Craig Stadler at 11 under after his final-round 73, while Hale Irwin and Bruce Summerhays tied at 10 under.
Eger was unfazed by the deep bunkers protecting the greens and fired at the pins to post four front-side birdies on the spectacular Jack Nicklaus-designed TPC at Snoqualmie Ridge.
He began the day tied atop the leaderboard with Stadler and Hatalsky and didn't waste time building a substantial lead.
Eger reeled off four front-side birdies. He made a 20-foot putt at No. 3, then a 15-footer on the next hole, a 12-footer on the par-3 No. 6 and a 6-footer on No. 8. Twice he birdied holes after drives strayed into the ankle-deep second cut.
"When I didn't birdie the first hole, that was a little disappointing," he said. "But making a birdie on probably the two hardest par-4s on the course -- Nos. 3 and 4 -- that laid the groundwork.
"It wasn't very exciting, I suppose."
Another birdie at par-4 11th dropped Eger to 17 under and gave him a comfortable five-stroke lead -- more than enough cushion.
"I didn't think it would be a multiple-shot victory," Kite said. "You had a three-way tie at the top and everybody bunched right behind them. I really thought it would come down to the last hole. David obviously played well."
On the back nine, it was Eger's tournament to win or lose. He made only a few minor errors, but saved par on the par-4 12th after bouncing his drive onto a cart path and again after hitting into the sand on the par-4 16th.
"I had the luxury of playing 18 as a pure, three-shot par-5," Eger said. "I played well. I putted well. I didn't make any mistakes and -- except for Tom -- there wasn't anybody who made a tremendous charge."
Eger won only $31,014 as a player in 58 PGA Tour events, then went to work for the PGA Tour and USGA from 1982-95. He was responsible for marking tee boxes and deciding pin placements at tournaments.
Three years ago, he earned a Champions Tour spot through qualifying school.
It was a rough day for Stadler, who got the loudest cheers on the first tee. He has played in the final group in the past four Champions Tour events but still is seeking his first win of the season.
The Walrus was a study in contrasts: calm and charming as he scratched his back with an iron on the second fairway, then unsettled on his way to a bogey at No. 8, a 529-yard par-5 that offered a good birdie opportunity.
Stadler hit his approach into a pond just below the eighth green, then couldn't hide his frustration. When his caddie, Jeff Dolt, handed him a new ball for a drop, Stadler just tossed it into the pond.
On the same hole, Eger hit his approach to 18 feet and calmly rolled in another birdie to reach 15 under.a
"It looked like I was going to lose a stroke or two and then I ended up gaining them," Eger said. "Then it got to be, 'Just hit the ball onto the fairway and the green as much as possible.' Avoid the drastic trouble."
Gary Player got a rousing cheer after placing his tee shot at the par-3 No. 13 within a foot. .. Volunteers chased a curious deer off the 14th green. The course's signature hole, a downhill 431-yard par-4, is ringed by woods and rewards anyone daring enough to carry a deep canyon. It gave up 20 final-round birdies and two eagles, while six golfers made bogey or worse. ... Don Reese logged a triple-bogey 6 on No. 9, a water-lined par-3 that played at 207 yards.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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