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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2009 > Champions Tour > Wal-Mart First Tee Open > Round 3
 

WAL-MART FIRST TEE OPEN RELATED STORIES




Jeff Sluman defends at Pebble Beach

Jeff Sluman carded a hole-in-one and fired a four-under 68 on Sunday to win the Wal-Mart First Tee Open for the second year in a row.

Sluman, who cruised to a five-shot win at Pebble Beach last year, was the only player in the final three groups to break par during a breezy final round on the California coast.

He ended at 10-under 206 for a two-shot win over Gene Jones (70).

"It was very difficult out there with the wind, and the greens were like concrete. But I just tried to play solid golf," said the 51-year-old Sluman, who posted the low round of the day to capture his third Champions Tour win.

The last six players out on the course -- Sluman, Mark McNulty, Tom Lehman, Bob Gilder, Loren Roberts and Mark O'Meara -- combined to shoot 14-over par on Sunday.

Among them, only Sluman managed better than a 73, making his first trip to the winner's circle since last year's First Tee Open that much easier.

"I thought I was going to be pretty close (to the lead) and all of a sudden I looked up at the leaderboard and saw I was two or three up," said Sluman, who collected $315,000 for the victory. "That's how difficult it was."

Lehman (73) and O'Meara (75) tied for third place at seven-under 209, three shots back. O'Meara, the two-time major champion who won at Pebble Beach five times while playing on the PGA Tour, is still seeking his first Champions Tour victory.

Roberts, the second-round leader, shot a six-over 78 and shared fifth place with David Eger (69) and Olin Browne (71) at six-under 210.

Sluman took a measured approach to his final round, even after the excitement of his hole-in-one at No. 5, which helped him go five-under on the front nine.

"I'm just trying to execute one shot at a time," he said in an on-course TV interview during the round.

Not long after uttering those words, Sluman poured in a birdie putt at the 14th hole to take a two-shot lead over O'Meara and re-gain the stroke he lost with a bogey at the 11th.

Playing two groups behind, O'Meara made Sluman's trip a little easier when he bogeyed the 13th hole to fall three shots back and into a second-place tie with Jones. O'Meara then bogeyed the 14th and 15th holes as well to fall out of contention.

Sluman made bogey from the rough at the par-four 16th and slipped to 10-under for a two-shot lead over Jones.

But Jones parred his last four holes, reaching the clubhouse at eight-under to put Sluman in control of his own destiny. No other player on the course was closer than four shots to Sluman's lead at the time.

Carrying his comfortable advantage to the par-five 18th, Sluman hit a three- wood off the tee, laid up perfectly and then knocked his approach to about 15 feet. He lagged his putt to tap-in range for a closing par, then waited for the win to become official.

Sluman's steady closing par only looked casual -- it was windy and challenging at Pebble Beach on Sunday, and there wasn't a hole that could be taken lightly.

"It was just very difficult," Jones said afterward.

But Sluman, who has played countless rounds on the storied course in his long career, had a simple game plan for the final 18 holes.

"Fairways and greens," he said, and smiled.

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