RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Bernhard Langer didn’t find his putting stroke until it mattered most.
The 60-year-old made an 18-foot eagle putt on the par-5 18th hole Sunday to shoot a 2-under 70 and win the Dominion Energy Charity Classic, the first of three event in the PGA Tour Champions’ Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs. He beat Scott Verplank by one shot.
Langer was even par for the day before getting to the easiest hole on The Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course.
“I was missing so many putts today and finally I made one,” Langer said after his sixth victory of the season and 35th on the tour for players 50 and older. “The confidence wasn’t that high, to tell you the truth. I had a very similar putt just on 17 that was about 7 or 8 inches left to right and I made a really good stroke but I left it an inch short, or two inches. I was going to make sure I got this one to the hole.”
The victory clinched the top seed in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Phoenix for Langer, and the eagle winner was a career first.
“I think it’s only happened one other time in my career when I holed a bunker shot for eagle” on the final hole to win, he said.
The final putt broke from left to right, and Langer said he aimed about 8 inches left of the hole, but didn’t know it was in until it dropped.
“You never know until it goes in,” he said. “It’s just as simple as that because it wasn’t a straight putt.”
Verplank, playing two groups ahead of Langer, shot a bogey-free 6-under 66 to erase a five-shot deficit, but missed birdie putts on the 17th and 18th holes. The putt on 17 was from about 30 feet and was online but stopped about an inch short. On 18, his effort from about 5 feet slid by the hole.
“I had a chance to be better than I was so I’ve got no one to blame but myself,” Verplank said. “I just hit kind of a bad putt.”
Langer’s six victories are a career high, and his 35 victories are second on the tour, trailing only Hale Irwin’s 45.
“He obviously plays with supreme confidence and he’s won so many times,” Verplank said. “He’s a great champion.”
Billy Mayfair (65), Kenny Perry (65) and Vijay Singh (71) tied for third at 12 under. Singh made three birdies on his first six holes to briefly grab a share of the lead at 14 under, but he gave all three back with a trio of bogeys and didn’t make another birdie until the finishing hole.
Langer became the second player on the tour for players 50 and older to make eagle on the final hole to win by a shot this season. Scott McCarron, who won this event last year, did it at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, leap-frogging Carlos Franco and Kenny Perry.
The playoff field was cut from 72 to 54 for the PowerShares QQQ Championship next week in Thousand Oaks, California. The top 36 will advance to Phoenix.