Watson and North teamed for a better-ball 64 on Sunday.
Chris Condon/PGA TOUR/Getty Images
Monday, April 28, 2008

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Tom Watson and Andy North got what they wanted, but had to work for it, edging Craig Stadler and Jeff Sluman by a stroke Sunday in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.

Watson and North teamed for a better-ball 64 at The Club at Savannah Harbor for a 31-under 185 total. Stadler and Sluman shot a 61 on the island course in the middle of the Savannah River. Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam (60) finished two strokes back.

"To hit quality shots when it counts, that's what makes me tingle," said Watson, who won the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am last week in Florida.

They started the day with a four-stroke lead, but in a format that produces tons of birdies, it wasn't surprising that others finally made a run at Watson and North.

"I birdied No. 11," Sluman said. "But, I had eagled it the previous two days, so Craig was a little disappointed there."

Stadler and Sluman, playing one hole ahead of Watson and North, had consecutive birdies on Nos. 11-14. During that run, Sluman's chip within 4 feet on the 13th pulled them into a tie with the leaders at 28 under.

But North broke the tie with a 15-footer a few minutes later on the 13th. Stadler got his team to 29 under with a chip to 2 feet at No. 14, but Watson matched it from 6 feet when he got to the 14th, regaining the lead.

Stadler birdied No. 16, but Watson, after first backing off to let a bug crawl out of his line to the cup, sealed it with a birdie on No. 17.

"I hit a chip to about 18 feet on 17 and rattled that one right in there," Watson said.

Watson and North, who have played 162 consecutive holes together without a bogey, had campaigned loud and long for the Legends to return to a team format. They paired up to win the Raphael Division the last three years, but it was always unofficial money. Only the Legends Division was official money, and it was individual play.

"We worked so hard to get this format," said North, who earned $225,000 for his share of this win. "We felt it was really important to play well."

This was North's first win - or share of a win - since the 1985 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills.

To get into the Legends Division, North was one of four who needed a sponsor exemption. North, who has had 11 operations for various injuries, spends most of his time doing television work for ABC and ESPN. Being part of the winning team now makes North exempt, but he doesn't expect to use his new playing privileges.

"My schedule," North said. "I'm solid. The events I'd really like to play, I'm working. The Senior Open, Senior British Open, I work."

Woosnam, Wayne Grady and Bill Rogers also needed sponsor exemptions to get into the tournament, a move that was popular with most Champions Tour players. But not all. Hale Irwin, for one, stayed away this week.

"That's his decision," Sluman said.

"Oh, well," Stadler said. "Hope he enjoyed his time off."

The Legends was first played in 1978 in Austin, Texas, and is considered the event that launched the 50-and-over tour. It was all team play until 2002, but always unofficial money. The tournament was played in four cities and on eight courses before coming to Savannah in 2003.

Notes: Watson earned 225 points to move into fourth place in the Charles Schwab Cup race with 633. ... Comedian Bill Murray was among the spectators during the final round. He spent some time afterward with Sluman in the media room. ... Defending champion Jay Haas teamed with old Wake Forest teammate Curtis Strange. They tied for 23rd at 16-under 200. ... North played the final round wearing a Wisconsin Badgers' shirt and cap. "Well, I've got no other contracts going, so I figure I may as well support my guys," he said. ... The tour's intrepid stats crew figured it was 22 years, 10 months, 11 days since North's last win.

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