Jay Don Blake takes advantage of his second chance to win Boeing Classic
Utah golfer tops Mark O'Meara on second playoff hole
Seattle Times staff
SNOQUALMIE — Jay Don Blake could do nothing but watch.
Mark O'Meara was lining up a 6-foot birdie putt Sunday to win the Boeing Classic on the first hole of a playoff at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge.
O'Meara slid the putt to the right. And given a second life, Blake birdied the next playoff hole to capture his third Champions Tour victory.
"I've got my hand out of my pocket, ready to shake his hand," Blake said of his thoughts before O'Meara's miss of the 6-footer on the 18th hole. "I didn't expect him to miss it."
The two went right back to the tee box of the par-5 18th hole, and Blake took quick advantage of his reprieve. He hit his second shot onto the back fringe, then chipped to tap-in distance on his third shot.
"I had a pretty tough chip and I chipped it down there pretty delicate ... I was pretty happy to get down there that close," said Blake, who won $300,000.
O'Meara needed to make a 14-foot putt to give himself a chance, but he missed.
In Blake's first Champions Tour victory last year, he won a four-person playoff that included O'Meara, whom Blake calls a good friend.
"I thought of that," said Blake, 53, who was born in St. George, Utah, and still lives there. "I was like, 'Well, he's going to be out for revenge,' so I had to be kind of sharp. I didn't want him to come up and say, 'Hey, we're one and one now.' I didn't want that comment."
You wouldn't have found Blake on the list of top contenders entering the event because he never has had much success at the Boeing Classic. He had not shot in the 60s in his previous three tournaments here and finished tied for 43rd and 54th the past two years.
But golf is an unpredictable sport. Blake, a one-time winner on the PGA Tour, opened with a 68 and finished with a 68. He and O'Meara (also with a 68 Sunday) finished at 10-under 206 overall. Willie Wood (70), who won last week, was one shot back.
O'Meara also was second in the 2009 Boeing Classic, when he lost by a shot to Loren Roberts despite shooting a 64 in the final round after entering the day just two shots behind. O'Meara now has been second in 12 Champions Tours events. He has two victories after winning 16 times on the PGA Tour, including the 1998 Masters and British Open.
"I had a chance to win and I didn't hit a very good putt," said O'Meara, who missed about four months this season with a rib injury. "It wasn't very much fun. I don't like finishing second, to be honest with you. I've finished second a lot out here."
All this talk about how you can't afford a poor first round in three-round Champions Tour events?
It certainly wasn't true at this event. O'Meara was tied for 57th with a 74 after the first round, but he moved into a tie for third with a tournament-best 64 Saturday to set up his Sunday run. He had to birdie the final hole in regulation to force the fourth playoff in the tournament's eight-year history.
"I'm proud that I hung in there and fought back," he said.
Tom Jenkins, 64, held a two-shot lead entering the final round but the lead was gone when he missed a 3-foot par putt on the second hole. It went downhill from there as he shot a 78 and finished tied for 21st.
Defending champion Mark Calcavecchia, who led by three shots after the first round, shot a 70 Sunday and tied for fourth. No first-round leader has won the Boeing Classic.
Pullman High School graduate Kirk Triplett had a tough Sunday, shooting 76 and finishing in a tie for 50th at 2-over 218.
|After Sunday's final round. Par 72.|
|x-Jay Don Blake||-10|