Picture: 123RF/DEKLOFENAK
Picture: 123RF/DEKLOFENAK

Cameron Beckman carded a final-round, four-under 68 to overtake 36-hole leader Ernie Els and win his first PGA Tour Champions title Sunday at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in Endicott, New York.

With a two-shot lead, Beckman hit a tee shot at No 18 at En-Joie Golf Club that sailed left and landed in a water hazard. But he saved his bogey to finish at 12-under 204 after playing partner Els missed a long birdie putt that could have forced a playoff.

Beckman’s last professional win came more than 11 years ago on the PGA Tour, at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in February 2010. Beckman, 51, shot ahead to 14 under for the event with a streak of five birdies from Nos 10-14.

Els played the same five-hole stretch two over, and Beckman had enough of a cushion over him and the rest of the field to absorb bogeys at Nos 15 and 18.

“It’s a little more satisfactory for me to birdie five holes in a row to put some pressure on him,” Beckman said. “I have this little thing going where I was just going to play aggressive and see if I could beat him. That’s kind of what we all want to do out here.”

Besides the $307,500 payout, Beckman’s win qualified him for next week’s US Senior Open. He will have to work around a scheduling conflict to make it to Omaha Country Club in Nebraska.

“I wasn’t planning on [playing it]. I’m taking my daughter to college tomorrow, so I was going to take the week off and help her with that,” Beckman explained. “But hopefully we can get it done and then maybe I’ll go.”

Els entered Sunday with a three-stroke lead, but his putter failed him on his way to an even-par 72 and a second-place finish at 11 under. “I can’t blame the greens. The greens were great,” Els said. “But I just — my feeling was they were just a bit slower. I had my chances, many chances. But I cannot complain. I played nice. I tried to fight right to the end.”

David Toms (final-round 67), Retief Goosen (66), Wes Short Jnr (68), Miguel Angel Jimenez (69) and Paul Goydos (68) finished in a tie for third at 10 under.

Reuters

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