WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The previous two years, Nick Price’s final rounds at the Principal Charity Classic were filled with tough shots and even tougher finishes.
Price solved that problem Sunday by grabbing an early lead and never letting it go.
“Today was a big day for me, because I think had I not finished it off it would have left a psychological scar in me. Because I couldn’t have played any better than I did this week,” Price said. “I tried to be aggressive when I needed to. I tried to be conservative when I needed to.”
Price shot a 4-under 67 to beat Tommy Armour III by four strokes for his second Champions Tour win of the year and third overall. The 53-year-old star, a three-time major champion, finished at 14-under 199 on the Glen Oaks Country Club course.
Price led heading into the final rounds the previous two years in Iowa before falling short. But Price grabbed the lead with a birdie on the fourth hole and stayed comfortably in front the rest of the way.
Armour, the co-leader with Price after two rounds, shot an even-par 71 and finished second for the third time this year. John Cook closed with a 66 to join Loren Roberts at 9-under 204, and six players finished at 8 under.
The win gave Price multiple victories in the same season for the first time since 1994, when he won six times on the PGA Tour and was the Player of the Year.
The only bad hole he played came on No. 17, when he narrowly missed the water on his approach and picked up his lone bogey. But Armour, who was two strokes back heading to the final hole, put his tee shot in the bunker on No. 18 en route to a double bogey.
Price sank an easy par putt, erasing the sting of two consecutive Sunday heartbreaks at Glen Oaks.
The affable Price three-putted for bogey on the 18th hole in 2008, allowing Jay Haas to take the title, and last year he lost a three-man playoff to Mark McNulty.
Price, who also won the Legends of Golf in April with Mark O’Meara, improved to 2-7 in senior events that’s he has either led or had a share of the lead heading into the final round.
“That was in my mind. I didn’t want to go to sleep on the lead last night and have to answer any more questions next year about being in the lead after two rounds,” Price said.
Price and Armour played the first three holes even. But while Armour continued to settled for pars, Price went on a birdie run to go up four shots after 10 holes.
Price moved ahead by two strokes with a birdie on No. 4 and a 75-foot birdie chip on the No. 6. Price then left his approach on No. 9 about 10 feet from the hole for birdie, and followed that up with another birdie on No. 10.
Armour didn’t play poorly, but he didn’t do anything to win the event either. He made par on his first 10 holes – allowing Russ Cochran to briefly join him at 10 under – and missed a makable birdie putt on No. 13.
Armour’s last gasp came on the 14th hole, when his par try lipped out and left Price up by four strokes with four holes to play. Armour birdied the next two holes, but by then it was too late to catch Price.
“I didn’t make any putts starting out and that put me behind,” Armour said.
Don Pooley, who won in Iowa in 2003, finished at 8-under 205 after a final-round 72.
Bernhard Langer shot a 32 on the front nine and looked primed for a charge up the leaderboard until he double-bogeyed the 10th hole. Langer, who entered the weekend second on the money list, finished at 7-under 206.
Money leader Fred Couples had matching 70s on Friday and Saturday, but he birdied his last four holes on Sunday for a 66 to join Langer at 7 under.
Couples is still atop the points standings, but Price leapfrogged Langer into third place and is optimistic that he can challenge for the title when it’s all said and done.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to build on this confidence,” Price said. “I really feel like my game is in shape now to able to become a three, four-time a year winner.”