Austin Wins Dominion Energy Charity Classic
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2018-10-22
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
RICHMOND, Virginia — Woody Austin knew Bernhard Langer was lurking throughout the final nine holes, and he did just enough to hold him off.
Austin shot a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory in the PGA TOUR Champions' Playoffs-opening Dominion Energy Charity Classic.
Langer, the defending tournament champion and series points leader, made the turn one shot off the lead, but eight straight pars kept him from ever gaining a share of the lead. Austin's birdie from 6 feet on the closing hole allowed him to hang on for the victory.
"It seemed like he couldn't quite get it over the hump," Austin said about Langer, who also birdied No. 18. "I'm not going to feel bad for the guy. The guy's kind of had things go his way for the last 12 years. Now he sees what it's like to have it happen."
The 54-year-old Austin finished with an 11-under total for three rounds at The Country Club of Virginia's James River Course. He won his fourth senior title and first since 2016, and said windy and cool conditions that made scoring difficult played to his advantage.
"I was happy to see it. I really enjoy a difficult test," he said. "I enjoy even par meaning something. That's my game."
Langer closed with a 70. The winner last week in North Carolina, the 61-year-old German star made consecutive birdies to finish the front nine, but had several birdie putts slide by on the back.
"I made a couple important ones and then I missed a couple important ones, especially the one on 16," Langer said. "I hit three really good shots and had about a 6-footer, something like that, and I just didn't hit it hard enough. It broke away."
Austin dropped a stroke behind Jay Haas and Stephen Ames with a bogey on the par-3 14th. He got that back with a birdie from about 5 feet on the par-4 15th and then got some good fortune on the final hole when his firmly struck chip hit the flag and stopped about 6 feet away.
"I always say usually the person that wins gets a break in the final round," he said. "That was my break."
The 64-year-old Haas, the second-round leader after a 65, had a 74 to tie for third with Fran Quinn (69) and Kent Jones (70) at 9 under. Haas was bidding to become the oldest winner in the history of the tour for players 50 and older.
"Disappointed, for sure," Haas said. "Not going to get many more opportunities like this, but it gives me hope, too, that I can still do it."
The top 72 players qualified for the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs opener. The top 54 move on to the Invesco QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California, and the top 36 after that will advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix.
Woody Austin, 68-68-69 – 205 (-11)
Charles Schwab Cup Standings – Start: 19th / Current: 8th
- Playing in the third-to-last group, Austin made four birdies in his front-nine 33, and his birdie on the par-5 9th gave him his first share of the lead with Jay Haas at 11-under.
- After bogeys on Nos. 10 and 14, Austin rebounded with a birdie on No. 15 and moved into a share of the lead with Haas at 10-under. Austin took a one-shot lead when Haas double-bogeyed No. 14, and a birdie on the closing hole gave him the clubhouse lead at 11-under. Bernhard Langer and Haas needed to eagle the 18th hole to force a playoff, and Austin secured the victory when neither player holed their third shots on the par 5.
- The win is Austin’s fourth on PGA TOUR Champions and first since he won three times in 2016.
- He began the day T4 and three strokes behind second-round leader Haas. The three-stroke, come-from-behind victory is tied for second-largest this season.
- This was the first time this season the winner did not emerge from the last or second-to-last group in the final round.
- Austin hit 45 of 54 greens in regulation, including all 18 in the third round. He finished the week T3 in the field and on the season he ranks No. 9 in that category (74.73%).
- Austin has eight top-10s this season, including five in his last eight starts.
Bernhard Langer, 70-66-70 – 206 (-10)
Charles Schwab Cup Standings – Start: 1st / Current: 1st
- After his bogey on No. 5, Langer was 7-under and trailed Haas by five. Langer birdied Nos. 8 and 9 to get to 9-under, and he was within one shot of the three co-leaders after Austin bogeyed No. 10 and fell to 10-under.
- Langer was unable to earn the lead, as he parred Nos. 10-17 and remained at 9-under. He needed to eagle the 18th hole to force a playoff, but he settled for a birdie and a solo second-place finish at 10-under.
- It was his sixth runner-up finish of the season, the most he’s had in a season on PGA TOUR Champions. In all, he has 38 wins, 33 runner-up finishes and 22 third-place finishes in 231 starts.
- The four-time Charles Schwab Cup winner extended his lead in the standings, as he is now 425,236 points ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez. Since the Playoffs started in 2016, Langer has led after six of the seven Playoffs events; the only exception was after last year’s Charles Schwab Cup Championship when he finished second behind champion Kevin Sutherland.
Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs
After this week, the top-54 players in the Charles Schwab Cup standings qualify for the Invesco QQQ Championship.
- For the second year in a row, Fran Quinn advanced to the second Playoffs event because of a top-10 finish at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. Quinn birdied the 18th hole to cap off a final-round 69 and post a 9-under total. He finished T3, his best finish of the season and matching his career-best finish (T3, 2015 Boeing Classic).
- Corey Pavin carded a final-round 73 and finished T15. He’s currently 53rd in the standings, which is 13,929 points ahead of 55th-ranked Mike Goodes.
- Jay Haas, the second-round leader by two strokes, opened with a birdie and moved to 12-under. Haas lost the lead for the first time after he bogeyed No. 8 and fell to 10-under. He double-bogeyed No. 14 and fell two strokes behind, and he went on to finish T3 at 9-under after a final-round 74.
- The T3 finish was Haas’ best since he won the 2016 Toshiba Classic, which was his 18th win on PGA TOUR Champions. This season he has three top-10s, and the 13-spot improvement in the standings (49th to 36th) was the second-largest this week behind Fran Quinn.
- Kent Jones closed with three straight birdies and shot 70, and he joined Quinn in the clubhouse at 9-under. The T3 finish was Jones’ best of the season. Jones, who earned status this season via PGA TOUR Champions Q-School, has 10 top-25 finishes this season and improved from 44th to 32nd in the standings.
- Tom Gillis finished T6, his fifth top-10 in seven starts this season, and improved from 41st to 37th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
- Billy Mayfair finished T6 at 8-under, his fourth top-10 of the season, and improved from 38th to 34th in the standings.