Jacobs Wins First Major Title

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NEWTON SQUARE, Penn. -- John Jacobs carded a 2-under 68 during the final round Sunday to win the Senior PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club. Jacobs claimed his first-ever major, as he finished the tournament at 4-under-par 276.
 
'I was a nervous wreck,' said Jacobs on how he felt the last few holes. 'It is a thrill to win though. I could hardly keep the tears out of my eyes. To win one of the major championships for the Jacobs' family, I am proud.
 
'It's not that bad when you're chasing something. It's not like I was holding onto anything. I was grinding to get to 3-under and chasing the leaders. I think it made it easier for me to chase, than for someone to be chasing me.'
 
Bobby Wadkins finished alone in second place at 2-under-par 278, with Bruce Lietzke and 2002 Senior PGA Champion Fuzzy Zoeller one stroke further back. Zoeller was the only player in the field without a round over-par. He shot 69-70-70-70 over the four rounds.
 
Jacobs, like the rest of the field, completed his third round earlier in the day Sunday. Jacobs entered the final round at minus-2 after a third-round 1-over 71. He dropped to minus-1 with a bogey at the par-4 third.
 
The five-time winner on the Champions Tour grabbed his first piece of the lead at the par-3 eighth when he birdied to get back to 2-under. Gil Morgan, who shared the lead at that point with Jacobs and had nearly the same putt, three-putted for bogey on the same hole to fall one back,
 
Lietzke, playing well ahead of the final group, birdied the 13th moments later to tie Jacobs for the lead.
 
Jacobs reclaimed a one-shot lead with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. Lietzke then was unable to get up-and-down for par on 15 and his bogey gave Jacobs a two-stroke advantage.
 
'I had it in my mind when we went to the back nine,' Jacobs said. 'I had in my mind that 3-under was going to win the tournament.'
 
Lietzke got back within one stroke with an up-and-down birdie at the par-5 16th. Jacobs then bogeyed the par-4 11th to fall into a share of the lead.
 
Wadkins then got back in the mix with a 12-foot birdie on the par-3 14th. He joined Lietzke and Jacobs at minus-2.
 
Lietzke fell to minus-1 with a bogey at the last. His drive found the right trees. He punched out, then knocked his third about 18 feet behind the cup from where he two-putted for bogey.
 
'I hit a bad tee shot on No. 18,' said Lietzke. 'My strategy on 18 was pretty much dictated by being an hour ahead of the leaders. I just couldn't afford to try the one gambling shot that I had, which was pretty much a crazy shot. I decided I was going to try to make a tough par, but ended up missing the par putt.'
 
Wadkins made a strong par on No. 15. His drive found the rough and forced him to lay up. He then dropped his third within eight feet of the cup and he made the par-saving putt.
 
Jacobs, who became the 15th different winner in 15 Champions Tour events this season, meanwhile was holding steady. He made a nice two-putt par on the 12th, before two-putt pars on Nos. 13 and 14.
 
Wadkins, playing one group ahead of Jacobs, had a chance to close in on the eventual winner as he reached the 16th in two. Wadkins however three-putted for par to remain at minus-2.
 
'Not the first time I three-putted and it won't be the last but it might have been one of the worst times for me to three-putt in a while,' Wadkins said.
 
Wadkins closed with back-to-back two-putt pars for an even-par round of 70.
 
'Obviously I am a little disappointed,' said Wadkins. 'I feel like I played halfway decent today and felt like I had a chance to win the golf tournament up until the 16th hole where I three-putted for par.'
 
Jacobs took over with a birdie on the 15th green. He rolled in a breaking, downhill putt from 25 feet out to get to 3-under and take a one-shot lead on Wadkins.
 
'I kept looking at the leaderboard and there was a new guy every few holes,' said Jacobs, who earns $360,000 with the title. 'I thought I am just trying to beat the guys I am playing and another guy pops up here and there.'
 
Jacobs then reached the par-5 16th in two shots and two-putted for birdie and a two-stroke advantage.
 
Jacobs nearly gave shots away on 17 and 18. His tee shot on the 17th landed on the green, but nearly 80 feet from the hole. He rolled his first putt within five feet of the cup and drained the par-saver.
 
On 18, his drive missed the fairway well right. He hit a low, cut shot just short of the green and nearly holed a putt from there, but the ball ended within inches of the cup.
 
The 58-year-old tapped in for par at the last to become the oldest Senior PGA Championship winner since Pete Cooper in 1976.
 
'Man I was having a hard time keeping it together going up 18 because I got tears in my eyes. I was thinking about my brother,' said Jacobs of his brother Tommy, a former PGA and Champions Tour player. 'He had a couple of chances to win the PGA.
 
'I was thinking to have one of these majors with a Jacobs' name behind it, my brother would be very happy. I almost lost it out there. I had a hard time getting up 18.'
 
Des Smyth, who led by two strokes after three rounds, struggled to a final-round 4-over 74 and finished alongside 2000 Senior PGA Champion Doug Tewell at even-par 280. Vicente Fernandez, Allen Doyle, the 1999 Senior PGA winner, and Gil Morgan were one stroke behind that duo at plus-1.
 
Bruce Fleisher, Bob Gilder, Tom Kite, Mark McCumber and Larry Nelson tied for 10th at 2-over-par 282. Hale Irwin matched the competitive course record of 5-under 65 in the final round to finish at 3-over-par 283, to share 15th place with Craig Stadler, who was making his Champions Tour debut.
 
Jay Sigel, who is an Aronimink member, came in at 4-over-par 284. He competed in the tournament despite the death of his mother on Wednesday.
 
Related Links
  • Bio: John Jacobs
  • Full-field scores from the Senior PGA Championship
  • Full coverage of the Senior PGA Championship