Barr birdies final four holes for first Champions win
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Dave Barr ended 16 years of frustration with one putt. And became the first Canadian winner in Champions Tour history, too.
Barr birdied the final four holes, capped by a 35-foot putt on the 18th, to win the Royal Caribbean Classic on Sunday, his first win on the 50-and-over tour.
Barr ended a 16-year victory drought, winning for the first time since the 1987 Georgia-Pacific Atlanta Golf Classic on the PGA Tour. He earned $217,500 for the win in the first full-field event on the Champions Tour, formerly known as the Senior PGA Tour.
Barr shot a 5-under 67 on the Crandon Park course to finish at 9-under 207, one shot better than Gil Morgan and Bobby Wadkins, both of whom missed chances to force a playoff on the final hole.
''It's been a long time,'' Barr said. ''That's a lot of grinding. It's great to win, but I certainly didn't expect to win the first one of the year. To win this one is a great surprise.''
Barr was fortunate on the 18th, hitting his second shot to the left of the bleachers on the par-5. After a free drop, Barr chipped past the hole, then made a slippery downhill putt to move to 9-under.
Morgan, the second-round leader, could have forced a playoff but missed his 6-foot par putt on the final hole. Morgan shot a 70, while Wadkins survived an erratic round to shoot 68.
Wadkins, who missed a 7-foot birdie putt on 18, had six pars, eight birdies and four bogeys Sunday.
Rodger Davis (70) was alone in fourth at 7-under 209, while Hubert Green (71) finished fifth at 211.
Morgan almost managed to recover from disaster and extend the tournament. His tee shot on the final hole landed in a water hazard, forcing him to play his third shot from 240 yards. That shot landed just short of the green, and after chipping up, the par putt to force a playoff with Barr lipped out.
Morgan chipped to about 6 feet, but his par putt lipped out.
''I struck the ball well enough, but I didn't make enough putts,'' said Morgan, who was denied his 22nd win as a senior. ''I had at least six putts inside 10 feet and I don't think I made any of them. ... My putter was the culprit today.''
So was his driver. Morgan was fortunate with his tee shot on the 18th on Saturday, when his ball ricocheted safely off a palm tree. He wasn't as lucky Sunday.
''I tried to keep it low, but I must have kept the face open a bit,'' Morgan said. ''Looking back, I probably should have gone with a 3-wood off the tee.''
Barr was seemingly out of the tournament through 14 holes, but reeled off the four straight birdies to storm past the field.
''The idea of winning, after 14 holes, didn't seem feasible,'' Barr said. ''Bobby had been making a lot of birdies and I guess I got caught in his draft, like a NASCAR race.''
Barr hit an 8-iron within 7 feet at the 15th, dropped another short putt on No. 16, then saved his two best putts for the finish, making 35-footers on each of the final two holes.
''The way I was thinking, just get it close for two putts. At that point, I had had a good tournament,'' Barr said. ''You're not really thinking about making it.''
Barr's final-round 67 was matched as the best round of the day by Wayne Levi and Rocky Thompson. Only Wadkins, who shot a 66 in Friday's opening round, posted a better score during the tournament.
Hugh Baiocchi and Jim Colbert each had a hole-in-one Sunday. Baiocchi aced the 131-yard 8th, while Colbert did so on the 178-yard 12th. The two aces were the first on the same day of a senior event since the 2000 tour stop in Atlanta.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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