PGA Senior's Championship
PGA Senior's Championship
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Doyle's stunning charge wins PGA Seniors' Championship

Memo to Wayne Gretzky: There are other lucrative uses for an aging, accurate slap shot.

Allen Doyle, still using the short, quick swing developed in his college hockey days, won the 60th PGA Seniors' Championship on his first try today by overcoming a four-shot deficit with the best final round in tournament history.

Doyle made nine birdies and an eagle on the way to an 8-under-par 64. That gave him a four-day total of 14-under 274, two strokes better than Argentina's Vicente Fernandez.

"That's something. It was a great, great day today. I don't know what to say," said Doyle, 50, a Senior PGA Tour neophyte who didn't turn professional until age 47.

The owner of a golf center in LaGrange, Ga., spent one season on the Nike Tour and two on the regular PGA Tour before joining the senior circuit late last year. The former Norwich University hockey player became the 18th golfer to win in his PGA Seniors' Championship debut.

"I should have brought a hockey helmet and put in on coming down the 18th hole," Doyle quipped. "I blew it today. Then I'd really be known for something."

Doyle's swing would make most golf teachers cringe. He takes a backswing less than half that of most pros, and there's nothing leisurely about it. He admits it's something like a hockey motion, even though he hasn't played since 1971.

"I can always repeat it," Doyle said of the unorthodox swing.

He proved that as he tore up the PGA National Golf Club on Sunday, beating the previous final-day record of 65 by Tom Wargo in 1994. Sunday's next-best rounds were 68s by Gil Morgan and Lee Trevino.

A 160-yard approach shot within a foot of the pin at No. 16 capped a string of four birdies in five holes and helped propel Doyle from one stroke behind Fernandez to two shots ahead.

While Doyle was walking up the fairway at No. 16, Fernandez sliced his tee shot into the water at the par-3 15th hole and wound up with a double bogey after two-putting from about 20 feet.

"Bad shot, bad club, bad swing - all at once," Fernandez said.

Doyle parred Nos. 17 and 18 to seal his second career victory, having previously won February's ACE Group Classic at Naples, Fla. He earned $315,000 for this win, vaulting him to the top of the seniors money list with $666,724.

Fernandez began the day tied for the lead with Bruce Fleisher, and appeared on his way to his first major title after a birdie at No. 7 gave him a three-shot advantage.

But Doyle, who had five birdies on the front side partially negated by a double bogey at No. 4, thrust himself into the mix by chipping in from about 30 yards away at the par-5 10th hole.

He gave one back with a bogey at No. 11, then reeled off three straight birdies to move within a shot of Fernandez.

"He played a great round, but I'm disappointed that I helped him a little on 15," said Fernandez, who shot 70 Sunday to finish at 276.

It was yet another in a series of close finishes for the Buenos Aires resident, who also finished second at last year's U.S. Senior Open and was third at The Tradition. He also was third at the 1996 PGA Seniors Championship.

"I'll just keep trying, keep knocking at the door," he said. "Maybe somebody will open it. Right now they've been closing in my face."

Fernandez was trying to become only the second Argentine to win one of golf's majors. Roberto De Vicenzo won the 1967 British Open and 1974 PGA Seniors Championship.

Fleisher and Spain's Jose-Maria Canizares were next at 279. Fleisher, whose 66 on Saturday thrust him to the top of the leaderboard, shot 73 on Sunday while Canizares had a 72.

Hale Irwin, denied a chance at a history-making fourth straight PGA Seniors' Championship win, shot 69 Sunday to finish tied for 11th at 283.

Walter Hagen is the only golfer to win the same major tournament four consecutive times, dominating the PGA Championship from 1924-27.