Bean holds on for second Champions win

Bean holds on for second Champions win

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — Andy Bean hasn’t forgotten how to pull off a dramatic victory.

Bean managed to save par on No. 18 after hooking his drive left and bogeying the previous hole, holding on for a 2-under 70 and a one-stroke victory over Loren Roberts on Sunday in the Champions Tour’s Regions Charity Classic.

It was only the second win in 5 1/2 years on the 50-and-over tour for Bean and his first since the Greater Hickory Classic on Oct. 1, 2006. That one capped a 20-year drought since his 11th PGA Tour victory.

Bean, who had held or shared the lead after the first two rounds, pulled himself out of trouble on the final hole when his drive nearly hit a hospitality tent some 230 yards from the hole with a bunker in the way. He landed his second shot 21 feet from the hole, though, and two-putted for par and the $255,000 winner’s check at Ross Bridge on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

“That one was about as good as I’ve hit it all day, all week, all year,” Bean said. “I wouldn’t want to have a bucket of balls and have to hit another one.”

He finished at 13-under 203. Roberts, still seeking his first win of 2008, shot a 69 and headed to the driving range for some practice in case there was a playoff.

“I was getting ready to pack it up there, then I saw that he’d bogeyed 17,” said Roberts, who had started a string of three birdies on No. 14. “We got in and the guy told me, ‘He’s hit it way left on 18.’ So I was ready to hit a few balls. I was going to just sit around if he hit it in the fairway.

“He had a great recovery shot.”

Jeff Sluman surged within two strokes of the lead with a 64 to finish third at 11 under, one stroke ahead of Mike Goodes. Lonnie Nielsen, Bernhard Langer and Denis Watson were four shots back.

Next up is the Senior PGA Championship in Rochester, N.Y.

Bean had been clinging to a one-shot lead over Goodes after the two were tied for first going into the second round. Goodes was hoping for a win to give him a full exemption after having to qualify for each of his six Champions Tour events this year.

Bean’s tap-in birdie on No. 16 gave him a two-shot cushion and helped him overcome some trouble on the final two holes. He two-putted from nearly 19 feet for a bogey on 17. Playing one group ahead, Roberts missed a birdie putt.

Despite his latest win drought, Bean said the pressure of being the front-runner never really got to him. It didn’t hurt that he had two of his daughters on hand in support, because they work at nearby Samford University.

“This week, I’ve been really just very calm,” Bean said. “I never really got excited about anything and just kept plugging.”

Sluman made the biggest final-day charge. He birdied eight of the first 10 holes on his way to the 64, his best round in 10 Champions Tour events.

“You don’t mind being on 11 and being 8-under for the day,” said Sluman, whose nine-hole 29 matched the tournament record set by Dana Quigley in 2005 when it was held across town at Greystone.

“It’s kind of a nice feeling that you don’t probably have very often. I played solid all day and hit quality shots just about every hole.”

Brad Bryant, who had won the past two Regions, finished with a 67 for his first sub-70 round in his bid for a third title in a row. He ended up at 7 under.

The winner’s trophy does remain in Lakeland, Fla., where both Bryant and Bean live.

“He told me, ‘You make sure you bring the trophy to Lakeland. We kind of like those trophies,”‘ Bean said.

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