WEST DES MOINES, Iowa(AP) Mark McNulty didn’t feel any pressure about the 30-foot putt he was staring down on the fourth hole of a playoff Sunday. After all, nobody expects to make those anyway.
Well, McNulty nailed it.
McNulty won the Principal Charity Classic for his seventh Champions Tour victory, beating Fred Funk with a left-to-right birdie putt to end a thrilling playoff.
The 55-year-old McNulty closed with a 5-under 66 to match Funk (66) and second-round leader Nick Price (68) at 10-under 203 on the Glen Oaks Country Club course. McNulty and Funk birdied the second extra hole to eliminate Price.
McNulty, from Zimbabwe, saved par on the third playoff hole – on the par-4 17th – after hitting to the fringe of the green, and Funk’s birdie putt lipped out.
Funk tossed his putter in disbelief – and McNulty wouldn’t let Funk get another chance to beat him.
Funk couldn’t convert a tough birdie try on the par-4 18th, and McNulty’s putt gave him his first win since the 2007 JELD-WEN Tradition. McNulty also is the first international winner in the nine-year event.
“Fred had already putted. I knew the line, I had the pace,” McNulty said. “It’s not like I had a 6-footer. There’s more pressure on a 6-foot putt.”
McNulty rallied from two strokes down in regulation with birdies on 16 and 17. Price joined Funk and McNulty in the playoff with a birdie on 18. All three players birdied the 18th to open the playoff, and 18 also was used for the second extra hole.
It was the Champions Tour’s longest playoff since Bernhard Langer beat Jay Haas in seven holes in the 2008 Toshiba Classic.
Mark Wiebe (69) finished fourth at 8 under, and David Eger (68) was fifth at 7 under. John Cook (64) topped a six-player group at 6 under.
Funk, coming off a fifth-place tie in the Senior PGA Championship, closed the front nine with four birdies in six holes to take a one-stroke lead over McNulty. Funk made a difficult par putt on No. 13 to keep the lead, and McNulty barely missed a par putt on the 15th to fall two strokes back with three to play.
McNulty birdied the 16th to get back within a stroke and, after a great approach on the treacherous 17th, made another birdie putt to pull even with Funk.
McNulty and Funk hit approaches on the 18th that landed in nearly identical spots on the green. Funk left his birdie putt just short of the hole, while McNulty’s try fell just inches shy of the cup on a hole.
McNulty also missed a similar putt on the first hole of the playoff on 18, and he finally nailed it at the end.
“All day, it was sort of catching up, behind, catching up, behind, and (Funk) was sort of always one step ahead,” McNulty said. “He’s got to maintain that one step, and I’ve got to catch up that one step, so I’m fortunate enough that I managed to it.”
McNulty birdied four of his last seven holes, and that bogey on No. 15 was his only one of the day.
“Mark won it. Nobody gave it to anyone,” Funk said.
Price was the second-round leader for the second year in a row at Glen Oaks. He squandered a one-stroke lead in the final round last year, and it looked as if it would be a repeat after he bogeyed three of his first six holes.
He steadied himself with three straight birdies, but a bogey on No. 10 put him two strokes down with eight holes left. Price followed that with a pair of birdies before forcing his way into the playoff with a birdie on No. 18.
Sixty-five-year-old Bruce Summerhays (68) tied for 12th at 6 under, his best showing since he won the 2004 Kroger Classic. Two-time defending champion Jay Haas (71) finished at 3 under.
Mark O’Meara withdrew before teeing off for the final round because of a bad lower back. R.W. Eaks left after seven holes because his chronic back issues flared up.