August 29, 2016
By the time Bernhard Langer made the turn in the final round of the Boeing Classic, he was five shots out if the lead. At one point Sunday he was tied for 14th after not finishing lower than 13th in any tournament this year.
A few hours later, Langer had outlasted Kevin Sutherland and Woody Austin in a playoff and was celebrating his fourth PGA Tour Champions victory this season and 29th overall on the 50-and-over tour.
''I blew tournaments when I had a lead and I've come from seven behind, so you just never know,'' Langer said.
Langer made a 3-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff with Austin and Sutherland to win the Boeing Classic for the second time. A day after his 59th birthday, Langer birdied the par-5 18th in regulation for a 5-under 67 to match Austin and Sutherland at 13-under 203 at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Austin also had a 67, and Sutherland shot 64, the low round of the week.
It took a special stretch for Langer to recover from a shaky front nine where he needed a few lengthy par putts to stay on the edge of contention. Langer went out in 1-over 37, but played the back nine in 6-under 30, also making birdies on Nos. 10-13 and 15.
''When he gets hot with that broom,'' Austin said in reference to Langer's putter, ''you can't beat that broom.''
Langer tied Lee Trevino for second on the career victory, still well behind leader Hale Irwin at 45. Langer also won the Boeing Classic in 2010.
Langer took advantage of Austin and Sutherland both finding bunkers on the 18th in the playoff. Sutherland ended up in a bunker off the tee, while Austin's second to the par 5 found a greenside bunker. Langer's second shot landed 10 yards short of the green and he nearly chipped in for eagle before making the birdie putt to win.
''You need to be precise and have the nerve and play the golf course the way it needs to be played,'' Langer said. ''There's still a little bit of life left in me.''
Gene Sauers, the second-round leader and U.S. Senior Open winner two weeks ago, shot a 72 to finish a shot out of the playoff. Sauers started his day with two straight birdies to reach 14 under. But he struggled on the back nine, bogeying three of the first five holes and allowed the chase group to catch up. Sauers was still in contention until making bogey at the 17th after his tee shot came up short. Sauers made birdie at the 18th to finish alone in fourth.
While Langer rolled through the back nine, Austin was hot on the front nine going out in 32. His first mistake of the round came at the 15th when he went for the green in two on the par 5 unaware he was in a tie for the lead because electronic scoreboards on the back nine were not working. Austin found a bunker and ended up making bogey.
''I would have laid up to the right for sure, absolutely, no question,'' said Austin, who birdied Nos. 17 and 18 to get into the playoff.
Sutherland started the day seven shots behind Sauers and made eight birdies with no bogeys in his round. Sutherland was attempting to win his first stroke-play tournament on either the regular or senior tour.
August 28, 2016
Gene Sauers took the Boeing Classic lead Saturday, two weeks after his breakthrough victory in the U.S. Senior Open.
The 54-year-old Sauers two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th for a 5-under 67 and a two-stroke lead over Joe Durant. The three-time PGA Tour winner had a 12-under 132 total at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
''I just concentrated on hitting the ball solid, trying to keep it in the fairways and give myself opportunities just like I try to do every week,'' Sauers said. ''I had opportunities to make the putts and I made a few today, missed a few. I made a couple of stupid bogeys.''
Sauers birdied four of the last five holes, making three in a row in Nos. 14-16.
''Just solid playing,'' Sauers said. ''That's what I'm going to try to do tomorrow.''
He's playing through tendinitis in his left wrist.
''Coming in this week I was not too confident,'' Sauers said ''I played one time at home because of my wrist and trying to heal it. I didn't know what to expect coming into this week. But I just won the U.S. Open prior to that, so that kind of builds confidence.''
The U.S. Senior Open victory capped a comeback for Sauers, 10 years removed from nearly dying. He was incorrectly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, spent seven weeks in the hospital and was given a 25 percent chance of survival. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a disorder of the skin and mucous membranes that causes the skin on the extremities to burn from the inside out.
Durant birdied the last for a 65.
''It's pretty generous off the tee, but you've got to hit good iron shots and I typically am a pretty good iron player,'' Durant said. ''You've got to manage your game a little bit around here. You've got to pick your spots because they can put some pins in some corners and greens get firm, you can go through some of the greens pretty easily. Or if you put them in the green-side bunkers, you're begging for mercy.''
He won the 3M Championship three weeks ago in Minnesota.
Tom Byrum and Stephen Ames were 9 under. Byrum had a 68, and Ames shot 69.
Kirk Triplett, tied for the first-round lead with Sauers after a 65, had a 71 to drop into a tie for fifth at 8 under.
Bernhard Langer also was 8 under after a 67. The 58-year-old German star won the 2010 tournament and finished second behind Billy Andrade last year. Langer has three victories this year, two of them majors.
Grant Waite (65), Woody Austin (67) and Fran Quinn (67) were 8 under, too.
John Daly was tied for 29th at 2 under after his second 71. He has three top-20 finishes in 10 PGA Tour Champions starts since turning 50, with the best a tie for 11th last month in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in New York. Last week, he tied for 51st in the Czech Masters.
Andrade was tied for 38th at 1 under, following his opening 74 with a 69.
Local favorite Fred Couples is sidelined by back problems.
August 27, 2016
U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers eagled the par-5 18th hole Friday for a 7-under 65 and a share of the Boeing Classic lead with Kirk Triplett.
Coming off his breakthrough victory two weeks ago in Ohio, the 54-year-old Sauers played the four par-5 holes in 5 under with the eagle and three birdies. He won three times on the PGA Tour.
Triplett had five- and four-hole birdie streaks at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. Also 54, he followed a bogey on the 11th - his second hole of the day - with five straight birdies and added a birdie on 18. On his second nine, he bogeyed the third, then ran off four in a row.
''I really just hit a lot of good wedges to real close, like 2 or 3 feet,'' Triplett said. ''That probably describes the round more than anything. It was by no means a pure ball-striking round or anything like that, I just really judged some wedges well. So, that's where most of the birdies came.''
Triplett won the American Family Insurance Championship in June in Wisconsin for his fifth victory on the 50-and-over tour.
Duffy Waldorf and Stephen Ames were a stroke back.
Waldorf also had five straight birdies, from the 15th to the first. He won the season-opening event in Hawaii for his second senior title after winning four times in the PGA Tour.
Ames played the final six holes in 6 under. He birdied 13 and 14, eagled the par-5 15th and birdied 16 and 18. A naturalized Canadian citizen from Trinidad & Tobago, he's winless in 36 starts on the 50-and-over tour after winning four times on the PGA Tour.
David Frost, Tom Byrum, 2012 champion Jay Don Blake, Jeff Maggert and Tom Pernice Jr shot 67. Frost also eagled the 18th and played the four par 5s in 5 under. Byrum birdied his final four holes.
''The greens are quite receptive, although it takes this big first bounce and then stops,'' Frost said. ''I remember last year the greens were a lot harder than they are this year, so I think that's why the scores are a little lower this year. The golf course is just in great shape. The fairways are beautiful, the greens are really nice. It's just a pleasure to come and play here.''
Bernhard Langer opened with a 69. The 58-year-old German star won the 2010 tournament and finished second behind Billy Andrade last year. Langer has three victories this year, two of them majors.
John Daly had a 71. He has three top-20 finishes in 10 PGA Tour Champions starts since turning 50, with the best a tie for 11th last month in the Dick's Sporting Goods Open in New York. Last week, he tied for 51st in the regular European Tour's Czech Masters.
Andrade had a 74.
Local favorite Fred Couples is sidelined by back problems.