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July 15, 2014

Montgomerie wins At Oak Tree

EDMOND — In Saturday’s third round of the U.S. Senior Open at Oak Tree National, hole 16 helped to push upstart Gene Sauers to his 3-stroke lead over Bernhard Langer and Scott Dunlap.

But Sunday to close it out, it became his nemesis.

Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie had to make up 4 shots on Sauers to force a playoff and it was accomplished — with the help of hole 16. Montgomerie won the three-hole playoff by parring 18 to win the 2014 U.S. Senior Open championship.

“Absolutely thrilled to come back from a disappointing yesterday,” the victorious Montgomerie said in the post-tournament press conference. “Really, 74 was a disappointing score but managed to hold it together. That could have gone to 76-77 very easily and the 74 really kept me in there to allow me to score 69 today and to be only 1-over for the weekend in extreme conditions on a wonderful, wonderful golf course is OK.”

Saturday, Sauers popped his approach shot to within 8 inches for a birdie on 16 and he then went on to birdie 18 for his 3-stroke cushion spilling over to Sunday’s final round.

But in regulation Sunday at 16, Sauers hit into the right fairway bunker and eventually just missed a par putt to put him in a tie with Montogomerie at minus-5. At the time, Montgomerie was on 18 and had a chance to take the lead after rolling just a foot-and-a-half past the hole on his approach. When the ball came to rest, the champion golfer was looking at a 12-foot downhill birdie putt with a chance to take the lead at 6-under-par.

Montgomerie thought the speed was faster and he left the putt short by 2 1/2 feet. He settled for par with Sauers ready to tee off on 18 needing birdie to walk off with the U.S. Senior Open title.

Sauers found himself on the right side of the fairway and struck a 4-iron 202 yards just 5 feet left of the hole. He lipped out the putt on the right edge to force the playoff on holes 16, 17 and 18.

“Coming down the stretch (in regulation) on 16 I should have made that putt,” Sauers said. “I wish I would have made that putt and things would have been different. I’m glad to have the opportunity.”

Hole 16 was the starting spot for the three-hole playoff and again, Sauers found the bunker right and again, came out with a bogey.

Montgomerie, though, was also in the fairway bunker with Sauers and made bogey as well. But Montgomerie parred 17 and Sauers came up with another bogey.

On 18, Sauers made a great chip for position for par, but Montgomerie stepped up and canned his par putt to end the U.S. Senior Open.

“Playing in this heat is something,” Montgomerie said on the 18th green during the awards ceremony with beads of sweat draining from his temples. “You guys know we’re pale in Scotland. Don’t know why they don’t play this tournament in Alaska.

“I want to thank all of you who came from Edmond and Oklahoma City. The hospitality was just great.”

Montgomerie (65-71-74-69—279) and Sauers (69-69-68-73—279) shot identical 279s while David Frost and Woody Austin tied for third at 1-under 4 shots back and 1988 PGA Championship champion at Oak Tree National Jeff Sluman, Vijay Singh and Marco Dawson tied for fifth at even par.

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