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Senior PGA Championship

Mike Reid still stunned by victory

His cell phone was jammed with messages from well wishers, he vaulted into the top 10 in earnings and he finally found closure for a collapse that has haunted him for 16 years.

Three days after his stunning comeback victory in the Senior PGA Championship -- three strokes down with one hole to play -- Mike Reid still seemed agog from the experience.

"I still have a hard time making that jump, feeling like I won an important tournament,'' Reid said Wednesday. "But I've read enough about it and I've seen the replay a little bit, so I know it happened.

"The only thing I can think as I look back on it is it's amazing how heroic you can be when you think you're playing for second.''

Reid is preparing to play in the Allianz Championship, which is this week's Champions Tour event. But no matter what he does in the 54-hole tournament starting Friday, it's hard to imagine topping what happened at Laurel Valley in western Pennsylvania on Sunday, when he went to the last hole trailing by three strokes and -- some how, some way -- won the tournament.

He got into a three-way playoff by sinking a 20-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole, which the leader, Jerry Pate, three-putted for bogey. Reid then birdied 18 in the playoff to win it.

"You see great things happen in sports on almost a daily basis and you think they're unbelievable and fantastic and terrific,'' Reid said. "People I've talked to used a lot of different adjectives to describe what occurred on a Sunday.

"But when you're part of it, it's a very surreal feeling because you're used to observing those kind of things from an outsider's perspective. It's an unusual feeling, but one I'd like to get comfortable with.''

He'll certainly be more comfortable now when he looks back on his career, which before Sunday had been marked by two major disappointments. In the 1989 Masters, he led with five holes to play, then played those five in 4-over and slid into a tie for sixth.

Later that year, he led the PGA Championship with three holes to play, but bogeyed 16, made double-bogey on 17 and finished one stroke behind Payne Stewart.

As disheartening as that was, Reid said he easily shook it off at the time. He was at the peak of his career. There would always be another tournament, always another major. Surely he'd be in that position again.

But it never happened.

"It isn't until years later that you realize that was your one chance,'' Reid said. "And it hurries past you like a stranger in the night. You brush up against that lifelong dream and you look it right in the eye, it's a pretty frightening thing.''

Winning his first Champions Tour title also has reaffirmed Reid's faith in his approach to golf. He always felt he was doing things the right way. Now he knows for sure.

"An experience like last Sunday reinforces to me what I've always believed, but I've never had the hardware to back it up, which is what I've been doing is correct enough,'' he said. "If it never works again, at least it worked once.''

Not to mention the pleasant memories it will conjure up -- and the ugly ones it will erase.

"It's not apples and apples, the comparison of the PGA to the [Senior PGA Championship],'' Reid said. "But it's still awfully sweet. When I look back in another 10 years, I think I'm going to think about last Sunday instead of 1989.''

 

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