SUNRIVER, Ore. -- Once a great putter, always a great putter. Or so reasons Mark McNulty, one of the best, who rode a hot flatstick to a runaway victory Sunday in the Jeld-Wen Tradition, the fourth of five majors on the Champions Tour schedule.
"Guys who have putted well through the ages are born with it," McNulty said. "Whether it's [Ben] Crenshaw, Tiger [Woods], Loren Roberts -- D.A. Weibring's a great putter -- you are born with it. You have times when you go through poor putting rounds, but it always comes back because you have it. It's inside."
For McNulty, who eschews high-tech putters in favor of a traditional Bulls-eye model, his proficient short game was on display early and often in the final round at Crosswater Club at Sunriver Resort as he broke out of a 54-hole deadlock with David Edwards and cruised to a five-stroke victory over him. McNulty closed with a 68 for a 16-under 272 total, his Sunday marred only by an inconsequential double-bogey on the 18th hole.
McNulty, 53, who won five times in his first two seasons as a senior but hadn't claimed a victory in almost two years, birdied four of the first seven holes. Twelve-footers at Nos. 2 and 7 were sandwiched around putts of 30 feet on the third and 25 feet on the fifth.
"Those were just bonus putts," McNulty said of the putts at Nos. 3 and 5. "I was coming downhill on both of them, and it was all about pace. Sometimes when you're putting well, your lag putts come out of the blue and go in. My pace was fantastic all week."
Although McNulty hadn't recorded a top-10 finish in 2007 coming into this week, he stayed calm Sunday. "I didn't feel any jitterbugs at all," he said. "I never got ahead of myself this week. I said Friday evening that there were still 36 questions to be answered. Each time I got to a new tee today, I said, 'That's one more question answered.' "
McNulty had faced a lot of questions in his career this season, from a swing that had gotten out of kilter to his long-troubled back. "The best win is the last win," he said. "You never know when the next one is going to come. I didn't know when the next one was going to come, if it was going to come. I'm still not totally confident about my back, even though it's a helluva lot better than it was. It's a fragile piece of equipment, and it doesn't like golf. My brain likes golf, my back doesn't."
(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)