WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Jay Haas looked up at a jam-packed leaderboard and knew there wasn’t time to play it safe. So he got aggressive, and it paid off with four birdies on the back nine and a second straight Principal Charity Classic title.
Haas shot a 6-under 65 on Sunday to win his second consecutive Champions Tour event and move into first place on the money list.
Haas, who won the Senior PGA Championship last week, finished at 10-under 203 total, one shot ahead of Andy Bean. The victory also pushed Haas past Bernhard Langer for first in the points standings.
“It was a sweet win for sure. To do it under pressure when you need to do it, there’s nothing like that,” said Haas, who was one of 18 players within three shots of the lead entering the final round. “It’s nice to do it when the heat’s on. I’m on a roll right now.”
Second-round leader Nick Price bogeyed his final hole and finished third with a final-round 69 and 8-under 205 total. Joey Sindelar was fourth at 7-under, and seven players tied for fifth at 6-under 207.
Haas was two strokes behind Price entering Sunday, but three straight birdies down the stretch gave him the lead for good. It started with a 48-foot putt on No. 14, and Haas followed that up with a chip on No. 15 that landed two feet from the cup. Haas then dropped his tee shot on the par-3 16th hole within two feet. A short putt there gave Haas a one-shot lead, and he closed with two straight pars.
Haas is the first player in the eight-year history of the event to win it two straight years, though he needed the lowest round of the day to defend his title.
“I didn’t really have time to get conservative because I was chasing the whole time, which was probably a good thing,” Haas said.
Price is still searching for his first Champions Tour win. He didn’t blow the final-round lead as he did in Austin, Texas, in early May when he shot a 3-over 75, but a shaky putter left Price with pars while Haas was racking up birdies. Price missed a number of birdie putts on the back nine, including two from 5 feet.
“If I putted well I could have won by three or four,” Price said. “It’s disappointing to play well and putt poorly like that.”
Price still could have forced a playoff with a birdie on No. 18, but his approach rolled onto the fringe. Price knew he needed to strike the ball hard to have any chance to get it to the cup, but he left it four feet short.
“I was so embarrassed after that putt,” Price said. “I don’t how to explain that. I had all the right thoughts. I just couldn’t get myself to hit it hard enough.”
Bean (67) quietly sneaked up the leaderboard with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16, but he needed one more on No. 18 to force a playoff. Those hopes went out the window when Bean whacked his tee shot into the rough.
Bean recovered with a 26-foot par putt to finish at 9-under 204.
Tom Purtzer had pulled into a tie for the lead with three holes to go, only to turn in a disastrous finish. His approach on the 17th hole landed in the creek near the green, leading to a bogey that dashed his hopes. A double-bogey on No. 18 gave Purtzer a 6-under 207 total.
Loren Roberts, the runner-up at Glen Oaks two years ago, was at 6-under through 16 holes before he stumbled on Nos. 17 and 18 yet again. Roberts, who blew a final-round lead with two holes to go in 2006, sent a chip past the pin and missed a par putt on No. 17. He then bogeyed the 18th hole and finished the tournament at 6-under 207.
Two weeks ago, Haas was winless and looking up in the points race and the money list at Langer, who took the weekend off. He’s since pocketed over $600,000 in winnings and has put himself back in position to win the money crown for a third straight year.
“A month ago, I had a bunch of good finishes, but now all of a sudden I’ve had a great year,” Haas said. “I was kind of in the wings prior to last week and this week. It can change quickly.”