Bean Earns First Title in Nearly 20 Years


2006 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock BarnCONOVER, N.C. -- Andy Bean birdied the first playoff hole Sunday to defeat R.W. Eaks and earn his first Champions Tour win the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.
'It's been a long time,' said Bean, who pocketed $240,000 for the win. 'I've come close and not done it, but it feels good. It's a relief. The money is nice, but the trophy is what I wanted. Your name stays on the trophy forever.'
Bean, who went wire-to-wire for the victory, withstood a late charge from Eaks, who was also in search of his first trip to the winner's circle on the elder circuit. Eaks birdied six of his last seven holes in regulation and forced Bean to birdie the last to force the sudden-death playoff.
Eaks finished Sunday's final round with a 7-under 65, while Bean plodded through a 4-under-par 68. The duo finished 54 holes at 15-under-par 201 and were about to embark on the sixth playoff this year on the Champions Tour.
The pair returned to the par-5 closing hole at Rock Barn Golf Club & Spa. Both found the fairway at the reachable par five and both landed safely on the putting surface.
Bean was about 25 feet from the hole, while Eaks left himself close to 45 feet. Bean was able to two-putt for birdie, but Eaks was not so fortunate. Eaks lipped out a 4-foot birdie putt to give Bean his first professional win since the 1987 Kapalua International.
'R.W. played great today and you feel for him,' acknowledged Bean. 'He was making birdies and I was making pars. He snuck up on me and played really solid today.'
Chip Beck shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday and finished alone in third place at minus-13. Dana Quigley posted a 6-under 66 in the final round and took fourth at 12-under-par 204.
Joe Ozaki (66), Tom Purtzer (68), Hajime Meshiai (68) and reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Allen Doyle shared fifth place at 11-under-par 205.
Bean took a two-shot lead into the final round and played brilliantly at the start. He birdied the second, fifth, seventh and ninth holes to build a four-shot advantage.
Things went downhill from there for Bean. He three-putted from 70 feet for a bogey at the 10th, then found a plugged lie in the bunker en route to another bogey at 12.
That same hole is where Eaks caught fire. He rolled in a 14-foot birdie putt there, then sank a 12-footer for birdie at the 13th. Eaks converted an 8-foot birdie try at 14, then polished off his fourth in a row with a 13-footer at No. 15.
Bean got a stroke back at 15 when he knocked a 9-iron inside 2 feet. With both making birdies at 15, Bean took a one-shot lead to 16, a hole both parred.
Eaks holed a 21-foot birdie putt at the 17th to match Bean atop the leaderboard. Eaks found the bunker with his second at 17 and blasted out to 3 feet. He sank that birdie putt and Bean two-putted from close to 25 feet to stay tied and force the extra session.
It was there that Bean prevailed.
'All in all, from the first day I got here, I played well,' said Bean. 'Everything was in sync and it felt good today. You don't forget what winning feels like, but it feels good to win again.'
Eaks played well on Sunday and it was almost a miracle he played at all. Eaks tweaked a back injury on Saturday and had it worked on Sunday morning. He considered withdrawing, but stuck it out and finished second.
'I've worked hard to get here,' said Eaks. 'It was lots of fun out there. When Andy had a big lead, I'll admit I was just thinking of finishing second. I'm happy. This was a great week for me.'
Larry Nelson carded a 5-under 67 and finished alone in ninth place at minus-10.
Defending champion Jay Haas fired a 6-under-par 66 and tied for 10th with Walter Hall (66) and Brad Bryant (70) at 9-under-par 207.
Related Links:
  • Leaderboard - Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn
  • Full Coverage - Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn