THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) — John Daly is happy to be back on top, no matter how bad he may have looked finishing it off.
Daly closed with three straight closing bogeys Sunday to hang on for his first PGA Tour Champions title, a one-stroke victory in the Insperity Invitational.
“It wasn’t pretty at the end,” Daly said. “But I got it done and that’s all that matters.”
The 51-year-old Daly had not won on tour since the PGA Tour’s 2004 Buick Invitational. He hasn’t exactly torn up the 50-and-over circuit since debuting at The Woodlands a year ago.
Wearing American flag pants, Daly shot a 3-under 69 to finish at 14-under 202 and earned $322,500. He opened with rounds of 68 and 65 to take a one-stroke lead over Kenny Perry into the final round.
Perry and Tommy Armour III tied for second. Perry had a 69, and Armour shot 67.
Daly eagled the par-5 first, and appeared to be cruising to victory, up to 17 under through the 15th hole to lead by two shots. Poor tee shots on the final three holes led to mistakes that Perry and Armour could not take advantage of in trying to chase down Daly.
As Daly walked up the 18th green, he knelt and kissed the large, colorful umbrella printed on the fairway to honor the late Arnold Palmer.
When Daly tapped in the winning putt, he pumped his fist. Moments later friends and colleagues including players Esteban Toledo and Michael Allen ran out to spray their pal with champagne. Daly closed his eyes, leaned back and soaked it all in.
“A win is a win, man,” he said. “And I didn’t think it would come this soon.”
Daly has had his moments at The Woodlands. He had four top-10 finishes in 15 appearances when the Shell Houston Open was played at the course, including a playoff loss to Vijay Singh in 2005. Daly tied for 17th at his first PGA Tour Champions event last May.
The two-time major champion becomes the 12th member of the senior tour to record a win on all three PGA Tour circuits.
“Now, I can say I’m a champion on the Champions Tour, which is really cool,” Daly said. “Hopefully, I can keep this confidence going.”
Perry looked like he might run down Daly until his approach to No. 17 landed in the water. “I had my opportunities to flip the scores on holes but I never could do it,” Perry said. “But good for him. That first win is always special.”
Armour, too, said he gave away his chances to win. He finished with two bogeys, one on the 17th after also hitting into the water.
“What can I do. I kind of threw away the tournament,” he said.
Kevin Sutherland was fourth at 11 under after a 67.