Monday, October 26, 1998

H A W A I I _ G O L F

‘Short stick’
clicks for Sigel

Putting success propels him
to a 2-shot victory in the
EMC Kaanapali Classic

By Bill Kwon


KAANAPALI, Maui -- In golf, you drive for show and putt for dough.

Just ask Jay Sigel, who credited his putting in winning the EMC Kaanapali Classic by two strokes with a 54-hole 12-under 201.

The victory was worth $150,000 for Sigel, a two-time U.S. Amateur champion who surpassed $1 million in Senior PGA Tour earnings for the third consecutive year.

Sigel, who wielded a hot putter in setting a course record in the opening round, posted a final-round 68 yesterday at the par-71 Kaanapali North Course for a wire-to-wire victory.

After his opening 10-under par 61, Sigel let the field back in Saturday following what he called one of his worst putting rounds of the year.

"It was a real shocker. No one can win if they putt poorly," said Sigel, who saw his lead cut to one stroke after shooting a 72 in the second round.

So he took his putter to his hotel room Saturday night.

"I didn't sleep with it, but I was thinking about it," he said.

Whatever he did, it worked.

"I rolled the ball very, very well today. Really better than I did the first day, if you can believe that," Sigel said. "I hardly ever had to struggle with the second putts. I didn't come close to three-putting."

The only blip in his round was a double-bogey at the testy par-3 17th when he plunked his tee shot into the water fronting the green.

Even then he made a great two-putt from 50 feet en route to becoming only the sixth multi-event winner on the senior circuit this year. He won the Bell Atlantic Classic in May.

"That was the only bad shot I hit today. I didn't hit it solid and the wind gust caught it," said Sigel, who had a three-stroke lead over Terry Dill going into 17. "I'm sure there was a lot of excitement on that hole today."

Just ask Babe Hiskey. He took a 10 at No. 17.

Bob Murphy, who bogeyed the 155-yard hole the first two days, had a double-bogey there yesterday. That cost him a chance to join Hugh Baiocchi and Larry Laoretti in a three-way tie for second place at 203.

Dill also bogeyed 17, as well as the difficult par-4 finishing hole, to place fourth at 204.

Former Big Island native Steve Veriato, a Monday qualifier, shared fifth place with Murphy after both closed with 69s. Veriato, who finished third here two years ago, earned $44,000.

"I'm going back home to Austin (Texas) and get ready for Q-School," Veriato said. "Hopefully, I'll have one of those magic (exempt) cards."

Defending champion Hale Irwin, who had already clinched his second consecutive Senior Tour money title, closed with a 65 for a 208 and tied for 16th -- disappointing for someone who had finished in the top five in 18 of 20 tournaments this year.

"My game has been great all year. Too bad it crashed this week," Irwin said.

"Hale is our best player," Sigel said. "He's entitled to an off week."

Unlike the first two rounds, when it was warm and calm, the tradewinds picked up yesterday. Still, 36 of the 77 players finished under par.

No thanks to Kaanapali's tough final two holes. No lead is insurmountable because of 17 and 18, Sigel said.

"You can certainly finish bogey, double-bogey easily. The lead's not substantial going into those holes," he said.

The par-4 18th, which was the 22nd hardest on the Senior Tour last year, was the most difficult this week, playing to a 4.5 average over three rounds. No. 17 was the third most difficult this week.

The par-5, 480-yard 15th was the easiest, playing to a 4.4 average. It yielded eight eagles and 119 birdies.

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