TIMONIUM, Md. (AP) — D.A. Weibring may never discard the little sheets of paper he carried in his pocket during the final round of his first victory at a major tournament.
In fact, it would be entirely appropriate if he drops those inspirational tidbits into the lovely crystal vase he won for capturing the 2008 Senior Players Championship.
Down by four strokes with 14 holes to play, Weibring soared past a fading Nick Price and held off a host of challengers Sunday to claim his first major title in 65 tries.
Weibring closed out a 2-under 68 with a 2-foot par putt on the 72nd hole. He finished at 9-under 271, one stroke better than hometown favorite Fred Funk (66).
Before the final round, Weibring received text messages from both his daughters and daughter-in-law. He copied them onto the hotel notepad and took them with him for the final 18 holes on the Baltimore Country Club course, glimpsing at them occasionally during the round.
“To have all that with you as you’re trying to play, I really wanted to win for all of those people who kind of supported me,” Weibring said.
On a day in which four of the top seven finishers bogeyed 18, closing with five straight pars was good enough to provide him with the trophy and a check for $390,000 — the biggest payday of his career.
“I had a couple of fortunate things happen,” Weibring said. “I didn’t play my best golf. I’ve played better in the final round and haven’t been rewarded. It was just my time, and I’m very proud to have won.”
Price (71), Ben Crenshaw (66) and Jeff Sluman (69) finished at 7 under, and Jay Haas (68) followed at 6 under.
It was Weibring’s fifth win in six years on the Champions Tour, and one of the most significant of his golf career. He was 0-for-39 in major tournaments on the PGA Tour and 0-for-25 on the 50-and-over circuit.
“It will all sink in as time goes on,” he said. “But I did always believe I could win a major championship. Sometimes things happen, and they just fall into place.”
Weibring’s final round included four birdies, but the 55-year-old’s biggest shots were on holes he parred. He salvaged par on 16 after hitting a 6-iron into the bunker, then drained a difficult 9-foot putt on 17 to maintain his grasp on the slim lead.
Weibring got help from Price, who missed a 3-foot birdie putt on 17 that would have created a tie at the top.
Price took a one-shot lead into the final round, and extended the margin to four strokes with birdies on 1 and 4. But successive bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8, combined with Weibring’s birdie on No. 8, created a deadlock atop the leaderboard.
Price made it three bogeys in four holes at 10, and put the lid on a lamentable round with a bogey on 18.
“I didn’t play well. It’s that simple,” Price said.
After Price fell off the pace, Crenshaw’s third straight birdie got him even with Weibring. Haas joined the fray with a birdie on 12, creating a temporary three-way tie at the top.
Weibring prevailed with the support of his wife, who was among a gallery that lent much of its support to the well-known Price and Funk, a Maryland native and local golf hero.
“I know the people here wanted Nick Price to win and they wanted Fred Funk,” Weibring said. “I understood that.”
Crenshaw, who lost his second-round lead with a 74 on Saturday, made a valiant run at his first Champions Tour win. He moved into contention with a run of three straight birdies on the back nine, but missed a 4-foot birdie putt on 17 that would have put him in a tie for the lead.
He then missed the fairway off the tee at 18, which led to his only bogey of the day.
“A disappointing finish. I had my chances. I really did,” Crenshaw said. “I played well, but it’s painful.”
Funk’s second-place finish moved him ahead of Haas into the lead in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. He didn’t have a bogey after getting four on the back nine Saturday en route to a 72.
“I just went out and enjoyed the walk, the golf, the competition,” Funk said. “I didn’t want to worry about anything, and I pretty much did that. It allowed me to play well. Unfortunately, I came up one short.”