Trevino earns first Champions Skins title
WAILEA, Hawaii -- Lee Trevino was up at 3 a.m. Saturday practicing with a new putter inside his hotel room.
That early morning practice on the ''bumpy carpet'' paid off later in the day as Trevino won the Champions Skins Game, holing a 10-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole to finish with six skins and $240,000.
''I was amazed seeing the ball go straight in the hole,'' Trevino said.
He said he switched to the new putter Saturday, made for him by Scotty Cameron, because he was putting so poorly with his old one earlier in the week.
''I made a lot of crucial putts today, which is unusual,'' he said.
The 63-year-old Trevino won the event for the first time in seven starts, earning $100,000 with his birdie on the par-4 17th. His best previous finish was second place in 1991.
''I don't play much anymore, but I practice a lot,'' he said.
Hale Irwin was second with $200,000, Jack Nicklaus made $160,000 and Arnold Palmer, the 73-year-old crowd favorite, failed to take a skin for the second consecutive year. Palmer struggled throughout, finding the rough, bunkers and gallery.
''I don't like the taste of finishing second or third, but I still feel good about the way I played,'' Irwin said.
Irwin, the winner three of the previous four years, took five consecutive skins on the back nine for his $200,000, but couldn't convert his 25-foot birdie putt on third extra hole, setting the stage for Trevino's winning putt.
''Lee played great,'' Irwin said. ''I haven't played with him and seen him hit so many good shots in a long time.''
Palmer was eliminated on the first extra hole, and Nicklaus dropped out on the second.
Irwin consistently outdrove his opponents and hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation. He also was first in on seven of the first 11 holes, but failed to earn a skin until he birdied the 420-yard 14th, picking up two skins worth $80,000.
''I felt like I played pretty well,'' Irwin said. ''But it was one of those crazy days where every time I did something, someone also matched me. I felt it was three against one out there.''
Trevino, who smiled and chatted throughout the round, said Irwin's feelings were accurate.
''We knew coming in that it was going to be three against one,'' he said. ''He held Hale back a long time. We knew that he was the guy to beat.''
On the final hole in regulation, Trevino made an 18-foot putt, and Irwin forced the playoff with a 7-footer.
Nicklaus had the lead for most of the day after a birdie on the par-3 eighth gave him seven skins and $160,000. After the next three holes carried over, Trevino birdied the 440-yard No. 12 to take four skins and $120,000. He also won No. 1 for $20,000.
Irwin birdied the 378-yard No. 17, taking three skins worth $120,000 -- giving him the brief lead. The putt was set up by a wedge shot from 97 yards out.
The first six holes were worth $20,000, Nos. 7-12 $30,000, the next five $40,000 and the final hole $100,000.
Conditions at the Wailea Golf Club were muggy, overcast with slight wind. The round took nearly six hours.
The Gold Course, which features an oceanview from almost every hole, runs along the base of the dormant volcano Haleakala and plays to a par 72 at 6,844 yards. It is surrounded by palm trees, white-sand bunkers and lava rocks.
The four players have won a combined 267 tour events, including 37 majors, and $48.3 million on the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.
The players donated 20 percent of their winnings to charities.
Palmer was well prepared when an autograph seeker's marker ran out of ink following the pro-am Friday. He whipped out a pen from his back pocket and signed the ball. When asked if it was a page out of San Francisco receiver Terrell Owens' book, Palmer said, ''I was doing this before he was born.'' ... The players took a 15-minute break after the 12th hole to change shirts, to make it appear they were playing on two different days for television.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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