AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Retief Goosen birdied the final two holes to win the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship on Sunday at Firestone Country Club for his first PGA Tour Champions title.
The 50-year-old Hall of Famer from South Africa broke a tie for the lead with a 15-foot putt on the par-4 17th and made a 10-footer on the par-4 18th for a 2-under 68 and a two-stroke victory over 65-year-old Jay Haas and Tim Petrovic.
“It’s been 10 years since I last won a tournament,” Goosen said. “The nerves were there, and to have those nerves a little bit again in the last few weeks, you know, you’ve just got to put yourself in a position all the time to get used to it again and that’s what I’ve done and it finally paid off this week.”
Three strokes ahead after opening rounds of 69 and 62, Goosen dropped a stroke behind Scott Parel on Saturday with a 75.
“Played great the first two rounds and then didn’t play all that bad yesterday, just let the course get the better of me,” Goosen said. “And today it was playing tough again. It was tough to get close, tough to make birdies, but managed to finish with four birdies in the last six holes or seven holes, so it was nice to pull it off.”
The two-time U.S. Open champion rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 first with an eagle on the par-5 second, then parred the next eight. He offset a double bogey on the par-4 11th with birdies on the par-3 12th and par-4 13th, but dropped another stroke on the par-4 14th. Firestone is a longtime PGA Tour venue, hosting the World Golf Championships event and previously the World Series of Golf.
“It’s an unbelievable course,” Goosen said. “It’s a golf course that hitting the fairways is the No. 1 priority, and even if you’re on the fairway, sometimes you struggle to get close. It’s a great golf course. This week it played tough with the way the wind blew.”
Haas, trying to become the oldest winner in tour history, closed with a 67.
“It does not suit me at all,” Haas said about Firestone. “But the way it was playing, it was playing pretty fast in the fairways and everything, and if I could keep it in the fairway I had a chance. But Retief’s hitting an iron on 17. I’m hitting a driver and that same iron.”
Petrovic shot 68.
“I’ve been struggling,” Petrovic said. “Been kind of doing everything mediocre this year. Kind of got back to work this week, kind of went back to basics.”
Parel had a 73 to tie for fourth with Kent Jones (71) at 2 under.
“I think I probably will do better next time I’m here,” Parel said. “I was probably not as prepared for the course. I probably needed to take a club out, put another one in here or there. Really seemed to bite me today more than anything.”
Steve Stricker, the first-round leader after a 64, shot a 72 to finish sixth at 1 under. He was coming off a victory two weeks ago in the U.S. Senior Open at Norte Dame, and also won the major Regions Tradition in May.
“Just made too many mistakes again,” Stricker said. “Didn’t make too many putts when I did have some opportunities, and you’ve got to have all parts of your game working here. It’s a great course. It was set up tough, but a great week.”