Former University of Hartford teammates Jerry Kelly and Tim Petrovic each nearly registered his first major championship victory Sunday.
But two lengthy clutch putts down the stretch enabled David Toms to hold off Kelly, Petrovic and Miguel Angel Jimenez and get his first PGA Tour Champions win in the U.S. Senior Open Championship at The Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Toms, who began the day one stroke behind Kelly, made a 15-foot birdie putt at the 16th hole and then sank a 19-footer to save par at No. 17. When Toms made a routine par at the 18th for a closing even-par 70 and 72-hole total of 3-under 277, he had managed a one-stroke for his first victory since the 2011 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve held a trophy,” said Toms, who hit only nine of 14 fairways and eight of 18 greens in regulation but had only 26 putts. “I didn’t have the patience to win a U.S. Open earlier in my career. I got better at it as my career went on. I never won one but got close. The putt on 17 was certainly the key to victory. To be able to make the two putts on 16 and 17 with the greens the way they’d got late in the day, I guess it was meant to be.”
With the win, Toms moved from ninth to No. 1 on the money list with $1,376,659, slipping past Kelly at $1,364,202.
Jimenez had five birdies, including at Nos. 15 and 18, two bogeys and a double bogey in a 69 that was one of only three sub-par rounds the final day. The pony-tailed Spaniard moved to third on the money list with $1,103,483.
Petrovic, a sectional qualifier making his tournament debut, hit a brilliant approach to 3 feet at No. 18 to set up his third birdie of the day to close with a 70 and his third runner-up finish in 11 starts this year. His second-round 65, which included a 30 on the back nine, was the low round of the tournament. The native of Glastonbury, Conn., finished second in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and tied for second in the Chubb Classic and is now eighth on the money list with $905,221.
“I definitely did not figure out the greens,” said Petrovic, who ran a mile and went shopping before a late starting time. “They made it tough one us. They had a couple head scratches for pins, and it was not easy from the fairway today with the wind blowing. It was really hard to judge your distance, so I really didn’t have any great looks at it. I had a few looks here and there, but they made it hard on us.
“I really don’t like putting on poa annua, and I don’t like courses that have a lot of right-to-left holes, and that’s basically all they have here. So I had a pretty good week.”
Kelly continued the best year of his career with his Tour-leading ninth Top-10 finish in 13 starts. He had only one birdie and three bogeys but has still finished under par in every start and is first in scoring average at 68.86. He won the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualaiia, finished second in the American Family Insurance Championship, tied for second in the Cologuard Classic and shared third in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
“This one’s going to motivate me in a big way,” said Kelly, who left a curling, 40-foot birdie putt to tie on No. 18 inches short. “We have got two majors in a row coming up, and I’m ready to go tee it up tomorrow morning. I hit fantastic shots on the back side, but the bounces did not go my way when the balls landed on the greens. That’s golf.
“I made some good second putts to hang around, but I didn’t put myself in position to make birdies coming down the stretch. It’s just such a fantastic golf course. Those of you who know me know I don’t like to give the USGA that much credit, but they got it right this week. It was a fantastic job. The course got firm, tough, fast, extremely playable, still solid. It was a great championship, and it always comes down to those putts, and David ends up making them. He’s a major champion already, and now he’s got his first win out here. And it’s a senior major and why I’m major-less.”
This finish was similar to what the former Hartford teammates did in the Tour’s previous major, the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship. Englishman Paul Broadhurst rallied for a four-stroke victory, with Petrovic finishing second and Kelly in a tie for third with Scott McCarron.
At the closing ceremony Sunday night, the United States Golf Association announced it will be returning to The Broadmoor for the 2025 U.S. Senior Open. It will be the third U.S. Senior Open and ninth USGA championship to be played at Donald Ross-designed Broadmoor. The 2020 U.S. Senior Open will be played Newport Country Club in Rhode Island.