The Day Stockton Came A-Chargin

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Whenever golfers gather around the locker rooms to talk about the great putters, talk always drifts to Dave Stockton. No one can do it like Dave, said Ben Crenshaw, himself one of the great ball-rollers in golf.
 
Stockton has used his putting skills to win 11 times on the regular tour, including two PGA Championships; and 14 times on the Champions Tour, including a couple of Senior Players Championships and a U.S. Senior Open.
 
Stockton entered the Champions Tour back in November of 1991, and midway through his first year ' 1992 ' he had a win. It was a big one, the forerunner to the Ford Senior Players Championship ' the Mazda Presents The Senior Players Championship.
 
No one ever backs into a championship ' they simply take the score after 72 holes and award the trophy. Stockton stepped right up and won it. But J.C. Snead was the big loser. He most certainly would have won were it not for late bogeys, allowing a steady hand like Stockton to motor past him to the throne room.
 
Snead had started the tournament in record-setting fashion. On Day 1 he set a course-record 65 at the TPC of Michigan course near Detroit. Any time I shoot 65, something must be wrong, said the self-deprecating Snead, enjoying a good laugh himself.
 
But he continued to pour it on the field Friday. On Day 2, he carded six birdies and an eagle en route to a 66 and a five-shot lead. That was a tournament record ' 131.
 
Stockton, meanwhile, had quietly moved up to third place after shooting a 71 Thursday and a 67 Friday. He was seven strokes behind Snead, but still within hailing distance. Snead showed signs of fading Saturday, settling for a 72, allowing Stockton to creep up closer with a 70. That put Stockton at 208, in a tie with Bob Charles, while Snead was still comfortably ahead of 203.
 
Sneads round Sunday was marked by a series of miscues. Bogeys at 11, 13 and 14 bumped him down the ladder to only a two-stoke lead, but he upped it back to within a comfortable three-shot bulge at 15 with a birdie.
 
Stockton, despite the large disadvantage of being 3-down with three to go, gamely battled on with his trademark ' a long putt ' on the 17th hole. It was a 40-footer for birdie, while Snead was settling for a par.
 
Now they were at 18, and Snead was solidly in control with a two-shot lead playing the final hole. He tried to play it smart, opting to tee off with a 2-iron.
 
But he hit it thin, the ball curling into a hazard. He took a penalty drop, then missed the green with a 5-iron. Eventually he was staring at a 12-footer for bogey, but the ball refused to go down, giving him a double bogey.
 
Stockton, meanwhile, hit in the fairway and hit it on the green, eight feet away from the hole. Staring down the putt that could make him a winner for the first time on the Senior (now Champions) Tour, he coolly stepped up and drilled it. Snead was beaten, tied with early finisher Lee Trevino a stroke behind new champion Dave Stockton.
 
Stockton became the first player on the Senior Tour to win $1 million in back-to-back years. He accomplished the feat in 1993 and 94.
 
Its not the money as much as it is the number you are chasing, he said. The number of wins and the number of earnings you have is a good indication of how well you played. Thats how we measure our success.
 
Being the first to win $1 million in back-to-back seasons on the Senior Tour is a pretty big deal. Thats kinda neat to me.
 
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