Hayes wins John Deere Classic

Sunday, July 28th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SILVIS, Ill. (AP) _ Wisconsin's J.P. Hayes won his second PGA Tour title Sunday, closing with a 4-under-par 67 for a four-stroke victory over Robert Gamez in the John Deere Classic.

Hayes, also the 1998 Buick Classic winner, had a 22-under 262 total on the TPC at Deere Run, the lowest score in relation to par in tournament history. David Frost had a 21-under 259 total in 1993 on the par-70 Oakwood Country Club course.

``I always believed I'd win again,'' Hayes said. ``I'm going to go out and give it 110 percent every tournament and that will never change.''

After beginning the round tied for the lead with Gamez at 18 under, Hayes birdied the first two holes to take control. Hayes added birdies on Nos. 11 and 17 in his bogey-free round.

``I felt very good from the start. I got off to a good start and with Robert struggling from the start, it gave me more confidence,'' Hayes said. ``I kind of surprised myself a little bit in that I never really missed a golf shot today. Every shot I hit was pleasing to the eye.''

The Appleton, Wis. native had just one bogey in the entire tournament, on the par-4 eighth Friday when he shot a course-record 61. He hit 17 of 18 greens and 13 of 14 fairways Sunday.

``I didn't think I have ever gone that many holes or played a tournament with that few bogeys,'' Hayes said. ``It was a pretty steady week.''

He earned a career-high $540,000, along with a two-year exemption on the tour.

Gamez, winless since taking two events as a rookie in 1990, bogeyed the second hole to fall three strokes back, and couldn't pick up any ground on Hayes. Gamez earned $324,000, nearly doubling his earnings for the year.

``I played hard all day,'' Gamez said. ``I hit a lot of good shots out there that just didn't turn out. J.P. played great for two days. He played a lot better than I did. It was nice to see somebody play well and win instead of me playing poorly and losing.''

Kirk Triplett closed with a 66 to finish third at 17 under.

Pat Perez and Mike Heinen made runs at Hayes, but both fell back. Perez, who started the day at 11 under, birdied five of the first seven holes to close within five shots of the lead. But he was even par the rest of way en route to a 66 and a 16-under total.

Heinen birdied Nos. 1, 6 and 8 to climb within three shots of the lead, but fell out of contention with consecutive bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes. Heinen, winless since 1994, had a 71 to match Briny Baird (70) and Chris Riley (70) at 15 under.