Champions Tour Top 5 in 2004

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Champions TourThe Charles Schwab Cup Championship marks the 31st and final official event on the 2004 Champions Tour schedule. Looking back on the year, a legend won in Savannah and a Walrus won at Pebble Beach. Kite flew high following a couple of crashes, while Oakley flew in under the radar in Ireland. Jake won a big one on the road, but lost a big one at home. There were plenty of choices, but only five made the cut. As the season reaches its conclusion, we countdown the top 5 tournaments this year.
 
No. 5 -- 3M Championship

2004 3M ChampionshipIn golf, everyone has a losing record. Tom Kites winning percentage is around .03 ' and hes in the Hall of Fame. That means Kite has won 25 and lost 792 in his combined PGA and Champions tour Tom Kitecareers. That being said, losing, though often, is never easy to stomach, and is made all-the-more difficult when you blow final-round, back-nine leads in major championships. Kite did that in both this years Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open ' in back-to-back weeks. One week after his second straight Sunday meltdown, however, Kite soared back into the winners circle at the 3M Championship. This time, he birdied three of his final seven holes, including the last, for a one-shot victory over Craig Stadler. It was more than just sweet redemption; it was his first taste of success in 22 bitter months.
 
I'm proud of this win, especially after what's happened the last two weeks, Kite said after his seventh career victory on the 50-and-over set. Out here, you've got to have selective memory.
 
No. 4 -- Bank of America Championship

04 Bank of America ChampionshipCraig Stadler won 13 times on the PGA Tour. He has eight Champions Tour victories in just two years. Hes got a Masters title and two senior majors to his credit. But its his win at this years Craig StadlerBank of America Championship that may head that list of accomplishments. Its not that the BOA is the most prestigious event on the senior schedule, or that he broke any records or did anything spectacular along the way to victory. Its a combination of what he did and what happened some 550 miles away that made this triumph so special. Moments after Stadler shot 64 to whip the field in Massachusetts, he watched in the scorers tent as his son Kevin won his first Nationwide Tour event in Findley Lake, N.Y. They became the first father-son duo to win in the same week since Bob (Emerald Coast Classic) and David (The Players Championship) Duval did so in 1999.
 
'I never dreamed of both of us winning on the same day, the elder Stadler said. This is probably the best golfing day I'll ever have. Individual accomplishments don't even come close to this.
 
No. 3 -- Senior PGA Championship

04 Senior PGA ChampionshipThere is supposed to be a window of opportunity on the Champions Tour. A window that usually closes around the age of 55. Hale Irwin, however, has broken that window into shards, and has Hale Irwinshattered records in the process. He started the 2004 campaign with 38 tour wins and added another at ' appropriately enough ' the Legends of Golf. No. 40 would come at the Senior PGA Championship. The odds were stacked against him at Valhalla Golf Club. The course was listed at nearly 7,200 yards and was playing even longer under wet conditions. Add into the stop-and-start nature of the tournament, due to Mother Natures interference, and there was no way a man nearing 59 years of age with a bad back should win this senior survival. Unless that man is Hale Irwin. After five days of play and countless weather delays, Irwin was the last man standing. Tied with pre-tournament favorite Jay Haas, who was making his tour debut, Irwin birdied the final hole for a one-stroke victory. It was his fourth Senior PGA title and his first major victory since the 2000 U.S. Senior Open.
 
It's been an awkward week for everyone,' Irwin said. I'm proud, I'm relieved and I'm glad it's over.'
 
No. 2 -- JELD-WEN Tradition

There was a lot of debate as to who was the leading candidate for player of the year leading up to the tours final major of the season. Craig Stadler was among that select list, but he lacked a major title on his 2004 resume. And it didnt appear that would change at the JELD-WEN Craig StadlerTradition. That was until the 15th hole in Round 3. Eight strokes off the lead, Stadler holed a 4-iron from 207 yards for double eagle. He managed to cut his deficit to four by the start of the final round, yet still found himself well in arrears on the back nine Sunday. But while the leaders stalled and stumbled down the stretch, Stadler closed like a champion. He birdied each of his final four holes for a one-shot victory over Jerry Pate and Allen Doyle. Local favorite Peter Jacobsen, whose production company ran the Portland, Ore. tournament, excited the crowd with a share of the 54-hole lead. But a double bogey on the 71st hole sealed his fate in a tie for fourth.
 
Eighty of us come out here and all 80 of us don't want to spoil Peter's party,' Stadler said, before adding a wry smile.
 
I'm still shocked I won this week, he added. I got up to the 18th green and saw the leaderboard with the bogeys and said, 'you know they keep opening the door a little bit and somebody's going to stick their foot in there, and fortunately it was me.
 
No. 1 -- U.S. Senior Open

2004 US Senior OpenPeter Jacobsens rookie season on the Champions Tour was supposed to be a boon for both the tour and for his pocket book. Having won on the PGA Tour at the age of 49, Jacobsen was supposed to tally trophies, rake in the money, and attract legions of fans along the way. But Peter Jacobsenleading up to the U.S. Senior Open it had been one big pain in the hip. Jacobsen had played in just two tournaments and had to withdraw from two more thanks to a balky ball and socket, which required surgery on April 20. He was going to skip the Senior Open, as well, but decided to give it a try -- only because it is the Senior Open. After two rounds it seemed to be a wise decision; he was tied for the lead with Tom Kite. That was the good news. The bad news was, rain had washed away play on Friday, so there would be a 36-hole Sunday. It was a worrisome proposition for a man two months removed from hip surgery, forced to traverse 36 holes in one day (carts are not allowed in senior majors). Kite moved two clear of Jake with a third-round 65, and appeared ready to add a U.S. Senior Open crown to his 1992 U.S. Open title. But back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th holes in the final round derailed his confidence, and a double bogey at the last ' while he was still tied for the lead ' was the ultimate train wreck. Kite, whose daughter Stephanie was watching in the gallery, finished a heartbreaking two back. Hale Irwin and Jay Haas, both of whom have ties to the Bellerive area near St. Louis, Mo., each could have tied Jacobsen with birdies at the last, but both failed, with Haas' birdie pitch clipping the hole. Jacobsen then calmly made his necessary par for his improbable victory.
 
It feels unbelievable, said Jacobsen. I've played in USGA championships since I was 15 years old. U.S. Juniors, U.S. Amateurs, U.S. Opens and now my first U.S. Senior Open I competed in. I won it. I'm speechless practically.