Kite Ends Winless Streak at 3M


2004 3M ChampionshipBLAINE, Minn. -- Tom Kite ended a nearly 22-month winless streak on the Champions Tour Sunday when he came from behind to win the 3M Championship.
'That was way too long to go without winning a tournament,' said Kite, whose last win on the elder circuit came at the 2002 Napa Valley Championship. 'I tried to emphasize the positive as best I could.'
Kite had a great run the last two weeks at the Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open. Unfortunately, he did not hoist the trophy at either. At the Senior British, Kite squandered a two-shot lead on the back nine and tied for second behind Pete Oakley. Last week at the U.S. Senior Open, Kite double bogeyed the last and handed the title to Peter Jacobsen.
'I'm proud of this win, especially after what's happened the last two weeks,' said Kite, who ended up third at the U.S. Senior Open. 'Out here, you've got to have selective memory.'
Kite posted a 3-under 69 to win by a stroke over Craig Stadler, who also shot a 69 on Sunday. Kite came in at 13-under-par 203 at the TPC of the Twin Cities.
Overnight leader Tom Purtzer blew the final-round lead for the second year in a row. On Sunday, he struggled to a 2-over 74 and shared third place with Larry Nelson (66) and Vicente Fernandez (68). The trio was knotted at 10-under-par 206.
Kite started slowly with two pars, but he missed the green with his second at the par-5 third. He hit a poor chip, but holed the 18-footer for birdie.
Purtzer fell off the pace with a double bogey and a bogey on his front side. Kite also dropped a stroke to par at the 10th when his pitching-wedge approach sailed over the green. He pitched to 12 feet, but two-putted.
Kite drained a 6-footer for birdie at the 12th, then took the lead of the tournament with a 13-foot birdie putt at the 13th. He had 6 feet for birdie at the 15th, but missed the putt.
Stadler, one back after an eagle at three and a birdie at 10, was not making up any more ground, but nearly caught a break from Kite at 16. Kite holed a clutch 6-footer for par to maintain his one-shot lead.
Kite had 7 feet for birdie at the 17th, but missed. He reached the par-5 closing hole in two, some 70 feet from the stick. Stadler knocked his second to 15 feet and watched as Kite lagged his eagle putt to tap-in range.
Stadler knew Kite would make the short birdie putt so he needed to hole the eagle putt to force a potential playoff. Stadler missed the putt and Kite ended a 47-tournament drought.
'All in all, I played a solid round,' said Kite, who collected his seventh Champions Tour victory. 'Craig and Tom didn't take advantage of some opportunities they had.'
'Tom played great down the stretch,' said Stadler. 'My wedges were marginal and my putter was awful. I should have been a lot lower. I made everything Friday and nothing the last two days.'
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