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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > Champions Tour > Commerce Bank Championship > Round 3


John Harris wins maiden Senior title

John Harris won a lot of golf tournaments in a storied amateur career. Now he's a winner on the Champions Tour.

After years of winning trophies and medals for events including the 1993 U.S. Amateur and four Walker Cups, Harris left the post-tournament ceremony this time with a check.

Harris won his first Champions Tour title Sunday, making a 6-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to beat Tom Jenkins in the Commerce Bank Championship.

"First and foremost, it's the satisfaction of being able to play under the gun against the best players in the world. Having played amateur golf most of my career, this is what you dream about doing," the 54-year-old Harris said. "It's been a fun run and I'm thrilled with today."

Harris had eight top-10 finishes in his four-plus years on the tour for players 50 and over. He matched the tournament's best round with a 64 Sunday despite bogeying the 18th hole in regulation.

He came up with a birdie on that same par-4 in the playoff, taking home the winner's share of $225,000 from the purse of $1.5 million. He entered the tournament in 27th place on the money list with $261,993.

Harris was asked why he decided to play on the Champions Tour after such a successful amateur career.

"For days like this," he said.

Jenkins, who had a one-stroke lead after completing the rain-delayed second round Sunday morning, parred the 18th with a tap-in to cap a 69 and tie Harris at 11-under 202 after three rounds on the 7,011-yard Red Course at Eisenhower Park.

Jenkins hit his drive well right on the playoff hole, left his second shot short and then got up and down for a par. But Harris, who played for coach Herb Brooks on the 1974 NCAA championship hockey team at Minnesota, hit a 5-iron from 178 yards from the fairway and made the birdie putt.

"Tom made a great 4. I knew he was going to make that putt but I was standing over on the side and said it really doesn't matter whether or not he makes this, I wasn't going to give him a second chance," Harris said.

Jenkins called Harris' drive on the playoff hole "a great shot."

"You do something like that, you deserve to win," said Jenkins, who has won six times on the Champions Tour. "I hit a great 3-iron second shot through a gap about 5 feet wide. I was thinking about pitching in the third shot but it came out kind of heavy."

It was the fourth playoff in the tournament's 19 years, the last win 2002 when Hubert Green beat Hale Irwin.

Jay Haas, who was trying to tie the Champions Tour record with his fourth straight victory, Andy Bean and Gil Morgan all finished one stroke out of the playoff.

Haas missed a 5-foot birdie putt on the par-5 17th and then missed a 26-foot birdie attempt on the par-4 18th. He finished with a 69 and failed to match the tour mark set by Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987.

"I pushed that putt," Haas said of the 5-footer on 17. "Everything was set for me to win. Four in a row, I didn't do it, but I gave myself a chance. I can't complain about third place."

Bean, an 11-time winner on the PGA Tour still looking for his first Champions Tour title, would have made the playoff with a par on the 18th, but he missed a 5-foot par putt on the closing hole after recovering from a drive into the right rough.

Morgan, going for a second straight victory after winning the Allianz Championship this month, left a 35-foot birdie putt just short on 18. He had a closing 69.

Dana Quigley had a 65 Sunday and was alone at 9-under 204, one shot in front of Scott Simpson (69), Dave Eichelberger (69), Massy Muramoto (69) and Tom Wargo (70).

First-round leader Allen Doyle, who opened with a 64, had his second straight 71 and was at 206.


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