HARRISON, N.Y – Fred Couples knocked in a 3-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole Sunday to defeat John Cook and win the Seniors Players Championship for his first major victory on the Champions Tour.
Couples did not have his best day of putting and missed a birdie on 18 that would have given him the win after trailing by two strokes most of the day. He won the playoff when a second shot on the 17th hole landed a few feet shy of the hole, setting up a short tap-in for the win.
Cook held a share of the lead for nine holes but bogeyed on No. 16 and missed birdie putts on the final two holes, forcing the second straight playoff and fourth overall in this event.
Peter Senior finished third with an even round of 71 and was at 10 under for the tournament.
Tom Lehman (68) took fourth, one stroke ahead of last year’s winner Mark O’Meara (69). First-round leader Jeff Sluman (70) slipped into a five-way tie for sixth.
Couples, the 1992 Masters champion, took the tournament lead after Friday’s second round and shot a 71 in regulation Sunday
Cook shot a 1-under 71 and missed a chance for his first major victory in 83 major appearances on the PGA and Senior Tour. He also his fifth Champions Tour playoff.
Cook initially took the lead on the third hole with an uphill birdie putt and regained it for the rest of the round on the seventh by nearly firing an eagle with a shot that hit the green, circled back towards the hole, setting up an easy tap-in.
That gave Cook a one-stroke lead and was one of the last shots before play was delayed due to heavy rain and thunderstorms in the vicinity of Westchester Country Club’s West Course.
Play resumed about two hours later and Cook took a two-stroke lead through the front nine, aided by Couples’ bogey on No. 8. Cook briefly lost sole possession of lead on consecutive bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes and was tied with Senior for one hole but regained it with a short birdie putt on No. 13.
Cook held the lead until the 16th as Couples turned in a miraculous rescue. After his tee shot went well into the rough near the crowd that elicited a groan of disappointment, Couples saved the hole with a 14-foot putt for par that put him in a tie with Cook for the final two holes.