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Veteran players succeeding on PGA Tour

Peter Jacobsen and the rest of the PGA Tour veterans are holding their own against the youngsters.

The 49-year-old Jacobsen's win at the Greater Hartford Open on Sunday added to the list of older guys who have been beating the younger set the past few weeks.

``When I was 30 years old, I thought I should have won every week,'' Jacobsen said. ``You think you're going to do it again and again. It doesn't happen that way. I think it makes this victory that much sweeter. I think I'll appreciate it a lot more.''

Kenny Perry, who turns 43 next month, has won three of his last six tournaments and tied for fourth Sunday. Craig Stadler, 50, won the B.C. Open last week.

Jacobsen shot a 3-under-par 67 for his first win in eight years. He started the day tied for the lead with 49-year-old Jay Haas, who's won nearly $2 million this year. Haas has two second-place finishes and has made 13 of 17 cuts.

``I never think of my age when I tee it up out there,'' Jacobsen said. ``From an experience standpoint, yes, I felt the last nine holes, if I was near the lead, I would have a good chance because a victory is not going to change my life. If you win your first or second tournament, especially if you are in your 20s, it will change your life.''

The 1984 GHO was Jacobsen's second win of his career. This victory was even sweeter, he said, in the final GHO on record. The tournament will be called the Buick Championship next year.

The thousands lining the hills along No. 18 cheered long and loud as Jacobsen made his way up the fairway. The final round of the final GHO drew more than 70,000 to the TPC at River Highlands.

Jacobsen finished 14-under for the tournament with a 266, two strokes better than playing partner Chris Riley.

``He didn't make a mistake,'' Riley said. ``He hit it solid, drove it solid, putted it solid and made all of his 5-footers.''

As Jacobsen's final putt dropped, his 21-year-old daughter Kristen ran onto the green and into his arms.

She was a toddler the last time he won here. His $720,000 payday Sunday was 10 times bigger than the check 19 years ago.

Jacobsen's eligible for the Champions Tour next year, where carts are allowed and the competition is three rounds long, except for the majors. After Sunday's success, Jacobsen said he isn't sure if he'll jump to he senior circuit when he turns 50.

``I was planning on playing the Champions Tour,'' he said. ``Now I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm in the same boat as Jay Haas. He has contended in so many tournaments. I don't know what I'm going to do, but it's a nice problem to have.''

Jacobsen was the sentimental favorite as the tournament unfolded. It opened with the much-heralded appearance of Suzy Whaley, the local teaching pro who became the first woman to qualify for a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias in 1945.

After Whaley bowed out Friday at 13-over, she followed Jacobsen around the course -- his production company handled her publicity the last seven months.

Todd Fischer (65) finished third at 11-under. Craig Barlow and Perry both shot 69 to finish four strokes back with Steve Pate.

Jacobsen played a sure and steady round in windy conditions, scrambling to save critical pars. His four-birdie round included one bogey when he missed a 3-footer for par on the par-3 5th.

Jovial and relaxed for 18 holes, Jacobsen bantered with the crowd, shaking hands as he walked to the tees. He waited for a butterfly to flit off his line on No. 3, explaining to the crowd, ``I don't want to hurt the butterfly.''

He was unflappable.

When a young boy sped by in a dirt bike along railroad tracks that lined the No. 14 fairway, Jacobsen took it in stride, pumping his fist in the air as if to say: ``Way to go.''

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