Tom Jenkins cards 7-under to win Senior PGA AT&T Canada Open by three shots

Sunday, July 7th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LASALLE, Ont. (CP) _ Of all the birdies Essex Golf & Country Club yielded during three days of the AT&T Canada Senior Open, Tom Jenkins pointed to a routine par four as the difference between winning and losing.

Jenkins had just regained the lead at the 13th hole when he pulled a drive at 14 into a fairway bunker. He wound up nailing a downhill 15-footer for par.

``It was a tough putt, downhill, down grain with a little break,'' said Jenkins, shortly after accepting the AT&T championship trophy for the second time in three years. ``That's probably what won the tournament right there. At that point you're trying to keep the wheel from coming off.''

Jenkins made five birdies on the back nine (10 through 13 and 16) to overtake Lietzke with a closing 64, giving him an 18-under 195 total and a three-shot margin over Lietzke.

Victory was worth $365,000, his largest cheque as a professional.

``In my career I haven't won that much so every win is breathtaking and exciting,'' he said.

Mississauga, Ont., pro Gar Hamilton cashed in for $65,482 with a 69 and a share of seventh.

``For a club pro, this is heaven,'' said Hamilton, who sat as high as second after the first round.

Lietzke, who had moved into the lead at the turn, finished with a 66 and a three-way share of second place at 15-under 198 with Walter Morgan and Morris Hatalsky.

Bob Gilder had a 64 to finish alone in fifth and Tom Kite had a 66 good for sixth as 49 players in a 76-man field broke par of 71.

Lietzke moved out front on the ninth hole with a birdie to Jenkins' bogey. The two-time Canadian Open champ then opened up a two-shot lead with an eagle three at the 501-yard 10th, somewhat blunting the force of Jenkins' birdie on the same hole.

``My downfall really was not making birdies after the 10th hole,'' said Lietzke who had fired a Senior career low 62 Saturday to move into Sunday's final group. ``It certainly wasn't because of my mind set. I had birdied two, three and four and my number was to get to 20 under before I started worrying about who was leading.''

Walter Morgan, who tied a Senior Tour record and established a course record with a 60 Saturday, followed up with a 65 Sunday.

Morgan tied a Senior Tour record for low score over the final 36 holes with his 125 total. He had 23 birdies over 54 holes, 21 of them over the final two days after shooting a two-over 73 Friday.

``If I had played good the first day I would have run away with it,'' Morgan said.

Hatalsky shared the lead of 11-under par with Jenkins heading into the final round but his 67 couldn't quite keep pace on Sunday.

Former U.S. Open champ and fan favourite Tom Kite made a charge out of the gate with back-to-back eagles at No. 2 and No.3 to pull into an early share of the lead with Jenkins and Hatalsky at 11 under, but Kite gave back two shots with bogies at No. 4 and No. 6. A chip in at No. 9 allowed him to make the turn at 10 under but by then he was four shots off the pace set by Lietzke.

Hamilton stayed in the hunt with birdies over three of his first four holes but disaster found him on the back nine.

At No. 10, his second shot nestled against a fence separating the course from a road. He took a drop but still had to contend with chain link on his back swing and didn't reach the green with his fourth shot. His second attempt at chipping up just made the secondary cut around the putting surface from where he chipped in to salvage a bogey six.

A bogey at the 190-yard 12th officially ended his stay on the leaderboard.

Norm Jarvis of Surrey, B.C., and Wayne McDonald of Winnipeg tied for 15th at 205. Jarvis carded a 67 while McDonald shot a 68.

Dave Barr of Kelowna, B.C., finished up with his second 69 in a row for a total of 208, leaving him tied for 27th while Dan Halldorson of Brandon, Man., carded a 72 to slip back to 47th at 211.

Jean Morin of St-Luc, Que., and Bob Panasik of nearby Windsor, Ont., ended 72nd at 223. Panasik finished up with a 69, while Morin shot 74.