KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Duffy Waldorf made a 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole to beat Tom Lehman by a stroke Saturday in the PGA Tour Champions’ season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship
The 53-year-old Waldorf shot a 6-under 66 to finish at 18-under 198 at Hualalai Golf Course. He played all 54 holes without a bogey, becoming the fourth player and second winner to accomplish the feat in the tournament. John Cook also was bogey-free in his 2013 victory.
"It was obviously 20 feet longer than I wanted," Waldorf said. "When I got to it, it just looked good. It looked like this putt doesn’t break at all. Sometimes you’d rather have a longer putt that you really feel good about the break. So anyway, just felt good about it. Lined up really well, felt comfortable and just felt like I needed to give it a run because Tom was in really good shape with a very makeable putt."
Waldorf has two victories in his last three starts, winning the Toshiba Classic in November for his first senior title. He won four times on the PGA Tour.
"I hate to say it, I feel like I’m finishing last year, too," Waldorf said. "I like keeping it going, which is exciting. I know the calendar’s changed but it’s great to get a win anywhere. I feel like it was not long ago I was winless and now to get two so quickly is super exciting."
Lehman also closed with a 66. After Waldorf holed his birdie putt on the par-4 18th, Lehman left his 15-footer inches short.
"I’m happy for Duffy," Lehman said. "He played very well. He made some really good putts when he had to make them. The greens here are so straight, so many putts are so straight, it’s easy to get line conscious and that’s what happens on 18 when you just worry about the line so much that you don’t hit it. So disappointing, but a good week for me."
Two strokes behind Lehman was six holes left, Waldorf made a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 13th and pulled even with a 15-footer on the par-4 16th. Waldorf got up-and-down from the rough on the par-3 17th, saving par with a 7-foot putt.
Waldorf opened with rounds of 67 and 65 to take a one-stroke lead into the final round. He earned $300,000 in his first appearance in the event for major champions from the last five years, tournament winners the last two seasons and sponsor invitees.
"I knew I was playing well, but this is a strong field," Waldorf said. "Even starting the day, I’m like, ‘If I play well there’s a good chance I won’t win.’ So I really didn’t feel any pressure out there that I had a chance to win or was going to do well, just wanted to play as good a round as I could."
Davis Love III was third at 15 under after a 68. The U.S. Ryder Cup captain was making his sixth senior start after playing the PGA Tour’s Hawaii events the last two weeks. He won the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in August.
Jay Haas (65) and Joe Durant (68) were 14 under, and Fred Couples (66) and Kenny Perry (67) were another stroke back.
Tom Watson, two strokes behind Waldorf entering the round after bettering his age Friday with a 65, had a 71 to drop into a tie for 11th at 11 under. The 66-year-old Watson is winless since the 2011 Senior PGA Championship.