/ WEST HAWAII TODAY
Loren Roberts celebrated a birdie on the 16th hole during yesterday's final round of the MasterCard Championship.
Roberts’ 61 is priceless
He wins the MasterCard Championship by one after sinking a fast-moving 30-foot putt on 18
KA'UPULEHU, Hawaii » If the hole hadn't been in the way at the 18th, Loren Roberts might have needed a playoff to beat Don Pooley during yesterday's final round of the $1.7 million MasterCard Championship at Hualalai.
Holding a one-shot lead on the pesky Pooley, Roberts stood over a 30-foot birdie putt, figuring a lag and a tap-in for par might be enough to win his second Champions Tour event. At worst, it would force a playoff.
So when the golf ball started racing toward the hole like a putt gone wild, Roberts knew it needed to hit something or it might go 4 feet past. Well, it hit something all right, the back of the cup, and somehow, it stayed in to give Roberts the heart-stopping victory.
"It feels great," Roberts said of his second Champions Tour win. "The putt on the last hole, what was it, 35 feet? It was nice that it went in. Realistically, I hit it, I was thinking about getting it down there. I just wanted to get it around the hole. It went in a little faster than I wanted it to. But it went in and it went in pretty hard."
Pooley followed with a meaningless 20-foot birdie of his own, but still fell one shot shy of Roberts. Despite shooting a final-round 65 with a three-shot lead to start the day, Roberts' course-record 11-under 61 left him one shot clear of Pooley, who didn't lose this winners-only tournament -- he got beat.
"There's nothing I can do about that," Pooley said of Roberts' birdie at the last hole. "I was hoping I could make that last putt and send it to a playoff. That would have been a lot more fun. I told him he took all the fun out of my putt. He deserved it."
The 61 was one of many records Roberts set yesterday. His 54-hole total of 25-under 191 shattered the Champions Tour record in relation to par of 22 under set by Ed Dougherty in the 2001 TD Waterhouse Championship and equaled the 191 Bruce Fleisher shot at the par-70 RJR Championship in 2002.
/ WEST HAWAII TODAY
Don Pooley hit from a bunker on the third hole yesterday in Ka'upulehu, Hawaii. Pooley finished second behind Loren Roberts.
Roberts also set the MasterCard record of 193 held by Gil Morgan with his win here in 1998. Morgan fired a final-round 10-under 62 that broke the 18-hole record of 63 held by many, only to have that mark also broken by Roberts about a half-hour later. Roberts set a 54-hole record with 26 birdies, as well. The old mark of 24 was set by Raymond Floyd in 1994 and equaled by Hale Irwin in 1995 and Dougherty in 2001.
Morgan finished with 24 birdies in this tournament. Pooley had 25 birdies with his putt at the closing hole. Pooley also set the record for the lowest score in a loss at 24-under 192. There were so many marks that fell yesterday afternoon, even the Champions Tour officials needed time to add them all up.
Put it this way: Defending champion Dana Quigley finished at 18 under last year to beat Tom Watson in a three-hole playoff. This year, that would have been good enough for eighth. In yesterday's final round, 10 guys shot 65 or better and 15 players in the elite field of 35 managed all three rounds in the 60s, including Jay Haas and D.A. Weibring, who tied for third at 22-under 194.
"I thought 20 under might do it," said Haas, who was the 2005 Champions Tour rookie of the year. He and playing partner Weibring, who played golf against each other in high school in Illinois, shot final-round 63s and lost ground to the champion. "Obviously, Loren went a lot lower than that. Give him credit in this win."
Roberts will join nearly everyone in this field at the Turtle Bay Championship this week. The way he is striking and putting the golf ball, he poses a real threat to halt Hale Irwin's six-tournament win streak at this year's first full-field event on the Champions Tour.
"I couldn't have asked for a better start this year," Roberts said. "I hit a lot of close iron shots and everything started going in after the putt at No. 3. I got a little tip in my mind. I started thinking about drawing a straight line with the shaft of my putter and keeping my head down a little longer.
"The key for me was the birdie on nine, a hole I hadn't played that well, and then the chip-in for eagle at the 10th. That shot got me on track. I feel really good about the way I'm playing right now."
You won't get any argument from Pooley. He only had one bogey the entire tournament at the third, and it cost him.
"I guess I made one too many bogeys this week," Pooley quipped, then smiled. "I hit a bad drive, a bad approach, a bad bunker shot and a bad putt. That adds up to a bogey. And unfortunately for me, it cost me."