Pittsburgh, PA – Joe Daley began the week with no status on the Champions Tour.
He ended it a major champion.
Daley trumped some of the biggest names in golf on Sunday to win the Senior Players Championship, the third major this season on the Champions Tour.
Daley, who shared the third-round lead, shot a 2-under 68 and won by two strokes at Fox Chapel Golf Club. He finished at 14-under 266.
"It just opens other opportunities to go out and play and prove how good I can be and compete against these guys because these guys can play," said Daley. "It just will be a continuation of the process of more competition and playing great golf."
Tom Lehman, who won the Tradition, the second major this year, birdied the last for a 1-under 69. He took second at minus-12.
Olin Browne, the reigning U.S. Senior Open winner, who had a 62 on Friday, fired a 5-under 65 Sunday to sneak into third at 11-under par.
Mark Calcavecchia, who shared the overnight lead with Daley, struggled to a 2- over 72 and tied for fourth with last year's winner, Fred Couples, who shot a 1-over 71 as the final member of the final threesome. The pair finished at 10- under 270.
It was a tense front nine for the contenders and through most of the opening side, Daley and Lehman were atop the leaderboard.
Lehman birdied two of his first four and Daley's lone birdie in that time frame came from eight feet out at the second. Daley fell one behind Lehman after a bogey at the sixth, but when Lehman missed the green en route to bogey at No. 8, the two were tied at 12-under par.
Daley inched ahead with a 12-foot birdie putt at the ninth. Calcavecchia chipped in for birdie at No. 10 to get within one of the lead, but Daley poured in a 22-footer for birdie on top of him to go two in front.
Lehman faltered with back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14, while Daley made routine pars. Lehman birdied the 15th to close the gap, but it was Calcavecchia who got closer.
Calcavecchia, who won last week in Montreal, sank an 8-foot birdie putt at the 15th and was two back. Calcavecchia drove into the left rough at 16, pushed his approach into a right, greenside bunker. Daley was in a fairway bunker off the tee, but safely played his second to the fringe and got up and down for par. Calcavecchia wasn't so lucky. He made bogey and fell three behind.
Daley made things interesting on himself with an errant tee ball at the par-3 17th. He landed in sand on the left and blasted out to 20 feet. His par putt missed and he walked to the par-5 18th with a two-shot lead.
Lehman was in the fairway at 18 and would need an eagle to truly threaten Daley. Lehman's second didn't go forward like he thought and came to rest short on the fringe. Lehman knocked his third close and tapped in for birdie to get within one of Daley's lead.
"Miracles do happen," Lehman said. "Thinking may be I'll get lucky and make a long one. Did not, but still made birdie."
Daley played the 18th beautifully until his third shot. From just short of the green, Daley ran his eagle effort almost 18 feet by the hole.
He faced a downhill birdie putt, but only needed a two-putt for the victory. Daley rolled in the long birdie putt to put the exclamation point on an amazing week.
"I couldn't have asked for a better day than today and have a round playing with them," said Daley. "All I was keying on was what I had next with the best possible attitude and kept my emotions under control. Had a little adrenaline going later in the round and I dealt with it pretty good, so here I am."
Kirk Triplett (66) and Bill Glasson (69) shared sixth at minus-9, followed by Kenny Perry, whose 2-under 68 left him alone in eighth at 8-under 272.
NOTES: Daley pocketed $405,000 for the victory...He never won on the PGA Tour, but did win twice on the Web.com Tour, but not since 2005...Daley's previous best finish was a tie for fourth at the Senior PGA...Roger Chapman, who won the season's first major, the Senior PGA Championship, shot a 2-over 72 and tied for 14th at 4-under par...Michael Allen, the leading money winner on tour, shared ninth at minus-7...The Champions Tour heads to California next week for the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, where Jeff Sluman captured the event last year.