Thompson Wins Match Play Championship


Leonard Thompson exacted some revenge on Vicente Fernandez, defeating him 1-up Sunday to win the Senior Tour Match Play Championship.
Thompson earned his third career victory on the Senior Tour, but he needed a very long day of competition to finally get his chance at Fernandez. Earlier in the day, Thompson defeated hometown favorite and top seed Hale Irwin, 4-and-3 in the semifinals and amazingly went the final 41 holes of the competition without a bogey. Fernandez reached the final by downing Bob Gilder, 7-and-5 at the Boone Valley Golf Club.
Last year, Thompson lost to Fernandez in a playoff at the Chrysler Senior Tour Match Play Challenge in Puerto Rico.
'Vicente and I went back and forth early on,' said Thompson, who earned $300,000 for Sunday's win. 'I didn't expect to be in the finals. Irwin is the best we have. You know you can win, but you had better be almost perfect to do it.'
The final was tied after 13 holes, but Thompson hit a 5-wood from the fairway within 15 feet of the pin on the 476-yard, par-5 14th. Fernandez's drive went into the high grass on the right side of the fairway.
Fernandez, who needed two shots to get out of the grass, conceded the hole to Thompson, who also won the 15th to move 2-up. Fernandez birdied the 17th hole to force the match to the 18th, but he hit his second shot on the final hole into the water. He then conceded the hole, and the match, to Thompson.
'I try not to give anything away in match play,' added Thompson, who was seeded fifth after 36 holes of stroke play. 'That is my strategy. I told Vicente I wanted him in Puerto Rico and it worked out. In Puerto Rico I was three down with five holes to go and came close at the end before he won in 19 holes.'
Fernandez, the 10th seed, played 103 holes over the four-day event, one less than Thompson. 'I played pretty well up until 13,' said Fernandez. 'I played really bad from No. 14 on. I made four bad swings and I paid for it. The wheels came off.'
Irwin, the winner of the 54-hole, stroke-play Boone Valley Classic in 1997 and '99, beat Gilder in the consolation match on the first hole of a playoff.
Thompson became the 10th different winner on the Senior Tour this year. Next week the Tour moves to Kansas City for the TD Waterhouse Championship. The second PGA major is just two weeks away with the PGA Seniors' Championship scheduled for the Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, New Jersey, starting May 24.
Click here to see full results from Saturday's and Sunday's matches