The first major championship of Bruce Lietzke’s career came on a day when he often couldn’t find the fairway.
Lietzke struggled with his swing throughout the final round of the U.S. Senior Open on Sunday at Toledo, Ohio, but made the four-shot lead he started the day with stand up.
Lietzke’s two-over-par 73 was a far cry from his round of 64 on Saturday, but it was enough to give him his first major championship in 53 tries. He finished with a seven-under 277, two shots better than Tom Watson, who had a final round of 71.
“It’s not the person who finished second or third, or the strength of the field, it’s did you survive a week on a golf course that tests every part of your game?” Lietzke said. “I’m not sure I feel like a champion as much as a survivor.”
He finished 58th in driving accuracy out of the 60 players who made the cut, but his short game and iron play turned out to be the difference.
After putting out for a bogey on the closing hole, Lietzke was hugged by his wife, Rose, who had flown Sunday morning from the family’s home in Dallas to see her husband win on the Champions Tour for the first time. Lietzke collected $470,000.
Vicente Fernandez of Argentina, who shot a 64 in the second round and was troubled by back spasms early Sunday, was one shot behind Watson in third place at 280.
They were the only golfers in the 156-player tournament to finish under par.
David Toms, after hitting a tree with his first tee shot and bogeying the first hole, responded with birdies on the next four and finished with a seven-under 64 to win the St. Jude Classic at Memphis, Tenn.
Toms finished at 20-under 264, three strokes ahead of Nick Price, for his second victory in eight weeks. He earned $810,000.
“I knew if I played my game, I was going to be there in the end,” Toms said. “I felt good about my game even after I bogeyed the first hole. That’s what I’m doing a lot better now than I did early in my career. I wouldn’t say I’m the guy to beat, but I definitely like my chances.”
Toms, who won the Wachovia Championship in Charlotte, N.C., in May, earned his ninth PGA Tour victory in a town where his swing teacher lives and region he visits for duck hunting.
Toms had three bogeys but separated himself from the pack with an eagle and eight birdies. Price had a final-round 62, tying a career low.
Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie drew the crowds, but Angela Stanford earned her first LPGA victory.
Playing in front of a gallery of only about 60 people for much of the day, Stanford shot a six-under 65 to win the ShopRite LPGA Classic at Galloway (N.J.) Township. Stanford finished at 16-under 197, three shots ahead of late-surging Becky Morgan, and earned $195,000.
Sorenstam, who started the round four shots off the pace, shot a 72 and finished at 208. She and the 13-year-old Wie, who shot a 72 to finish at 215, drew the biggest crowds.
“I have respect for those players and I think it’s awesome that fans come out and watch their favorite players,” said Stanford, 25. “Hopefully, one day, I’ll be their favorite player here.”
Stanford is in her third year on tour. Her previous best finish was a second.
Philip Golding of England birdied the final hole for a three-under 69 and a one-stroke victory over countryman David Howell in the French Open at Versailles. Golding finished at 15-under 273.