Tom Watson successfully defended his Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am title Sunday, saving bogey after hitting into the water on No. 18 for a 1-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Jay Haas and Scott Hoch.
A year after ending an 0-for-93 Florida drought at the TPC Tampa Bay, Watson finished at 9 under for his 50th title on the Champions and PGA tours.
"I'm on a streak," Watson said. "I've got to buy a house down here."
Hoch (71) had a chance to force a playoff, but his short par putt on 18 lipped out.
"I just hit a terrible putt," Hoch said. "I had not been putting all that good, but I haven't missed anything like that."
Watson's 7-iron approach on the 456-yard 18th missed the green to the right and trickled into the water. After dropping, he pitched with a sand wedge to 5 feet, made the bogey putt, then waited inside the scorer's trailer well behind the stands surrounding the green as Hoch played the final hole.
Like Watson before him, Hoch, who also started the day at 8 under, hit his approach right of the green, yet he appeared to catch a break when the ball settled just off the putting surface. His chip stopped 4 feet, 3 inches from the hole. But Hoch's putt squirted away after falling partly into the hole.
Watson started the day three back of second-round leader Mark Wiebe, and for much of the afternoon it appeared as if Wiebe would win for the second consecutive start and third time in 13 Champions Tour events since turning 50 last September. But after moving to 12 under with a birdie on 14, Wiebe drove into the water on the par-4 15th and a subsequent triple bogey dropped him to 9 under.
He was still only one shot behind Watson when he doubled the par-3 17th after missing the green left. Wiebe's second shot on the hole, a putt, failed to reach the putting service, further adding to his troubles. He shot a 5-over 41 on the back nine to tie for fifth at 6 under.
"You know, I came pretty close," Wiebe said. "My driver is my favorite club and if something let me down today, it was my driver."
Haas shot a 7-under 64, the low round of the day. He was 4 under on the back nine.
The victory was Watson's first on the Champions Tour this year and 11th overall. He won 39 times, including eight majors, on the PGA Tour.
The 58-year-old Watson, the event's first back-to-back champion, began the tournament with an 8-under 63 on Thursday, a round that included birdies on seven of his final nine holes. He followed with an even-par 71. Sunday's round included four birdies, but ultimately it was his bogey save on the final hole that won it.
"I backed in through the back door," Watson said.
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