Nature Valley First Tee Open 2014
John Cook claims narrow victory
September 29, 2014
John Cook won the First Tee Open on Sunday at Pebble Beach for his 10th Champions Tour title, closing with a 3-under 69 for a one-stroke victory over Tom Byrum.
The 56-year-old Cook birdied the par-4 13th and parred the final five holes to finish at 11-under 204 total. He won the 1981 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach for the first of his 11 PGA Tour titles and also won the 1975 California State Amateur at the course.
Cook parred the par-5 18th, missing a 25-foot birdie try that left a tap-in for the victory.
''I played to make par,'' said Cook, who missed 10 weeks this season after freak non-golf back injury at his Florida home. ''I don't often do that, but maybe I've learned something in 40 or 45 years.''
Byrum also shot 69. Winless on the 50-and-over tour after winning once on the PGA Tour, he bogeyed the par-5 14th and par-3 17th and closed with a par.
''I needed to make a birdie and I made a par,'' Byrum said. ''It was a good par after hitting in the bunker, but I just didn't make a good shot I needed. But I am encouraged with how I played.''
Cook won for the first time since the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii in January 2013. He began the final round with a one-shot lead over Byrum and Skip Kendall.
''Today I played nicely,'' Cook said. ''I didn't have my best stuff, but my putting showed up.''
Kendall, playing his second Champions Tour event after earning a spot in open qualifying Tuesday, tied for third with England's Roger Chapman. Kendall shot 70, and Chapman had a 65.
Woody Austin was fourth at 8 under after a 66.
Kirk Triplett, the winner the last two years, shot a 67 to tie for sixth at 7 under with Billy Andrade (69), Fred Funk (70) and Lee Janzen (70).
Davis Love III, also making his second Champions Tour start, had a 74 to drop into a tie for 24th at 3 under. The 20-time PGA Tour winner tied for 64th last week in Hawaii.