Purtzer Eagles Hole to Win SBC Classic
Sunday, March 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) _ Tom Purtzer rolled in a 58-foot eagle putt on the final hole Sunday to win the SBC Classic title over Gil Morgan, his first victory on the Champions Tour.
Morgan had a two-stroke lead going into the 546-yard, par-5 18th hole of the rain-shortened tournament at Valencia Country Club but missed a seven-foot putt that would have forced a playoff. Both Morgan and Purtzer missed getting into last year's playoff, won by Tom Kite, by one stroke.
Purtzer's eagle finished off a final round 4-under 68. He had a 36-hole total of 9-under 135 after rain washed out Saturday's play and cut the tournament from 54 holes. The victory was worth $225,000.
``I've seen strange things happen before on this course, so I wasn't ready to quit,'' Purtzer said of the last hole. ``I wanted to make a three to get to 9-under, but I never expected to see Gil back up. He just doesn't do that.''
Morgan, who three-putted for bogey on the final hole, shot a 71 and finished at 136. Sammy Rachels, who had two eagles on the front nine, shot a 69 to finish tied for third with John Schroeder (72) at 138.
Morgan said it was his second shot that hurt his chances on the final hole.
``The trouble was on the right and I just pulled my 3-wood too far to the left,'' he said. ``Then when I hit up there with a 9-iron, I left myself a tough 30-foot putt.''
His first putt missed on the left side and rolled seven feet past the cup. He then missed his par putt, which would have forced the playoff, to the right.
``It was a pin I had never seen before,'' Morgan said.
Morgan began with a two-stroke lead but, despite making birdies on three of the par-5 holes, he never pulled away.
There were five lead changes throughout round, with Purtzer taking the lead for the first time after making four consecutive birdies starting at the fourth hole.
Morgan stretched a one-stroke lead to two with a scrambling par on the 17th, which Purtzer bogeyed.