It isn’t easy to win your first PGA Tour Champions event, but when a senior tour legend and a World Golf Hall of Famer is closing fast the difficulty quotient is amplified.
This was the predicament Canada’s Stephen Ames was in in the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic on Sunday. Ames had played 48 PGA Tour Champions events without winning, yet he withstood the pressure applied by Bernhard Langer, who was playing several groups ahead of him, and won the event by four.
“I saw Bernhard was playing well coming down to the end, and I looked to see how many holes he had in front of me to play,” Ames said. “And I said to myself, ‘Let’s continue pressing and see how many more birdies I can come in with.’ I made a couple good putts coming down the end there and kind of put the cruise control on.”
Ames, 48, played a bogey-free round of six-under-par 66 at the TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Ga., to conclude 54 holes in 15-under-par 201. Meanwhile, Langer, a winner of 30 tournaments on the PGA Tour Champions, shot a bogey-free seven-under 65 to finish at 205.
Langer provided an assist by nearly playing his way out of contention on Saturday, when he shot a one-over-par 73, ending a streak of 36 straight sub-par rounds on the PGA Tour Champions, dating to the U.S. Senior Open last August.
Ames took a one-stroke lead into the final round, but none of the five tied for second—Billy Andrade, Kenny Perry, Brandt Jobe, Kevin Sutherland and Bob Tway—was able keep pace with Ames. Jobe shot a two-under 70 to tie Fred Funk and David Frost for third.
It was Ames’ first victory since he won the Children’s Miracle Network Classic on the PGA Tour in 2009, the fourth of his four PGA Tour victories. He also won the Players Championship by six shots in 2006.