Price wins Colonial for first win in four years

Monday, May 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ When Nick Price won the Colonial in 1994, he was one of the world's top golfers.

The feeling was a little different Sunday when Price won the Colonial again for his first PGA Tour victory in four years.

``It wasn't sitting in front of me like so many of those wins in the early '90s,'' Price said. ``I came here knowing I felt I was going to finish in the top 10 again because I was playing well, but I didn't have any idea I was going to win.''

Price closed with a 3-under-par 67 to finish the Colonial at 13-under 267, five strokes better than David Toms and Kenny Perry. It was his 17th PGA victory, and first since the 1998 FedEx St. Jude Classic.

Just like many of his 15 wins in the 1990s that matched Tiger Woods for the most in that decade.

Price won with consistent shotmaking and a deft putting stroke. He took control with birdies on Nos. 11, 12 and 14.

After Price drove into a fairway bunker and found the rough on the 609-yard 11th hole, he sank a 35-foot birdie putt. He then made a 12-foot birdie on the 433-yard 12th.

Price two-putted for par on the 178-yard 13th. He then put the tournament out of reach, getting to 13 under with a chip-in birdie from 30 feet on the 457-yard 14th after pitching his second shot over the green.

``I thought I had a shot, but Nick just kept making birdies,'' Perry said. ``He was cruising.''

Price earned his biggest payday on tour at $774,000. That gave him $1.6 million this year, his tour-record ninth $1 million season, and moved him over $16 million in career earnings.

While he limits his schedule to spend more time with his family, Price has made the cut in all 10 tournaments he has played this year. The Colonial was his sixth top-10 finish.

Tied for second at 8 under, Toms (66) and Perry (67)earned $378,400 each. Dudley Hart, after his second 65 in three days, was fourth at 7 under.

For Price, the victory erased doubts about winning again.

``It feels like it's been 10 years. I didn't think this day was going to come,'' he said. ``That self-doubt has been cast away now.''

Toms had gotten to 9 under with a birdie at No. 13, but then had a double bogey at No. 15, where his second shot at the 430-yard hole found the bunker and he blasted over the green.

``I knew it was pretty much over with,'' said Toms, who had his third straight finish in the top 10. ``It was the first bunker I've plugged all week and it was actually on a solid shot. It was just bad timing.''

Perry, who also got to 9 under after a birdie at the 12th, gave that stroke back after his first two shots at the 14th found the rough.

``When I made par on 13 and saw what happened in front of me, I knew I just had to stay upright the last five holes,'' Price said.

That made up for tense moments on the front nine. After a three-putt at No. 5, Price's drive at the 393-yard sixth hole plugged just below the lip in a fairway bunker. He then hit his drive at No. 7 into the right rough.

During his walk up No. 7, Price had chat with himself.

``I said, `I'm not going to make any more mistakes. I'm just going to make birdies and pars.' And I did,'' he said.

Davis Love III and Phil Tataurangi were both at 274, a stroke ahead of Tom Watson, in his only PGA Tour event except the Masters so far this year. Watson has been in the top 10 in 11 of his 24 Colonials, and won in 1988, his last PGA Tour victory.