Kite Holds On for Napa Valley Win


NAPA, Calif. -- Tom Kite shot an even-par 72 and held on to win the Napa Valley Championship. Kite ended at 12-under 204, one shot ahead of Fred Gibson and Bruce Fleisher.
Kite won his third title this season and sixth on the Senior Tour. He was the 36-hole leader, which means the 36-hole leader has won this event four straight years and eight of the previous 14 times.
'Sometimes you take some pride in gutting one out,' said Kite, who earned $195,000 with the win. 'I hit the ball quite nicely, but struggled with my putting stroke today.'
Jim Thorpe finished two shots off the pace at 10-under 206. He was followed by Hubert Green, who had the low round of the day (64), Jay Overton, Tom Purtzer and Bob Gilder, who were 9-under and tied for fifth place.
Kite opened by sinking a 10-foot birdie putt at the first. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep that momentum as he bogeyed the next after hitting his tee ball into a bunker.
He got back into red figures with a 10-foot birdie putt at the fourth. Kite again would give the shot back with a bogey at 6. There, he hit his second over the green and was unable to get up-and-down.
'The course definitely played harder today,' Kite said. 'I just tried to finish out and not make any mistakes. It was hard to get it close to the hole today.'
Kite hit a sand wedge to four feet for birdie on 10 to get to 13-under. He carded his final bogey at the 13th where he three-putted from eight feet. Kite could have dropped another shot to the field after driving into the trees on 14, but he made an excellent up-and-down to save par.
'I am proud of my save at No. 14,' said Kite. 'That was really a hiccup at 13. From that point on, every golf shot was a quality shot. I was proud of that under pressure.'
Kite was fortunate that he had history on his side. He had played six rounds at this course in 1972 during Qualifying School.
'This win was special today because this is where it all began for me,' said Kite. 'I had some of the same feeling today that I had at the Qualifying School 30 years ago.'
Gibson made a strong run at the lead after bogeying the first hole. He got his round rolling with consecutive birdies starting at the fifth. After a birdie at the eighth got him to 2-under for his round, Gibson vaulted up the leaderboard over the next two holes.
He hit a 5-iron to within seven feet of the hole on the par-5 ninth to set up eagle. Then he holed out from 125 yards away on 10 for his second straight eagle.
'I haven't done that (holed out) since Tanglewood a few years ago,' said Gibson. 'It's good to finish with something positive.'
Gibson would give two shots back with bogeys at 11 and 12. He did, however, birdie 14 from eight feet and 18 from three feet to close out his round of 66.
'Those two bogeys probably cost me the tournament,' said Gibson, who was the first alternate entering the tournament. 'I never really thought I had a chance to win. I tried to stay in the moment and focus.'
Final results from the Napa Valley Championship