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Eger defeats Kite by three

8/24/2005

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."

Divots
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.