Derby's Woody Austin ties record, wins Champions event


Woody Austin’s Sunday putter came through again.

Austin tied the tournament record with an 8-under 64 and beat Wes Short Jr. with a par on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff in the PGA Tour Champions’ Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga.

The 52-year-old Austin, a Derby resident, has two victories in the last three events on the 50-and-over tour, also winning in Tucson, Arizona, last month. In each win he switched putters for the final round.

It’s an example of why he said “I’m not a normal person when it comes to golf.”

“I do everything quite different than most golfers,” Austin said. “I’m not a range guy. I don’t even go to the range an hour before my round.”

Austin also didn’t go to the range after his 64, instead sitting in the clubhouse for about an hour as Short and others finished. The televised coverage of the tournament kept showing Austin munching on popcorn.

Austin didn’t hear the commentators speculate about why he wasn’t warming up, because he wasn’t even watching the tournament.

“I went in the clubhouse because I wanted to watch the Cavaliers-Pistons game,” he said. “I’m a sports junkie. I was more happy watching that. That keeps my mind off what is going on.”

Austin won the 2013 Sanderson Farms Championship at age 49 for the last of his four PGA Tour titles. His win in Tucson last month was his first on the senior tour.

Austin said his Sunday putter – the same style but black instead of silver – has earned a try in the first round of his next tournament.

Short bogeyed the second playoff after pulling his tee shot left into tall grass for the second time.

“You can’t hit it left,” Short said. “I mean, I’m dead. I knew it as soon as I hit it both times. … I didn’t think I’d be tree-locked on the second time, though.”

Short finished with a 68. He could have avoided the playoff at TPC Sugarloaf, but missed a 6-foot birdie putt on No. 18, leaving him tied with Austin at 11 under. That missed putt may have been more painful than his errant drives on the playoff holes.

“It was very makeable,” he said. “I pushed it. As soon as I hit it, I knew. That kind of stings.”

Paul Goydos had a 67 to finish third at 10 under. Joey Sindelar (67), Tom Lehman (67), Miguel Angel Jimenez (68) and Colin Montgomerie (69) were another stroke back.

Bernhard Langer shot a 67 to tie for 11th at 6 under, ending his streak of five top-10 finishes on the tour this season. He had one win and two second-place finishes in the tournament’s first three years.

Tom Watson, the 66-year-old star who shared the first-round lead a week after playing in his final Masters, closed with a 68 to finish 4 under.

PGA Tour — Branden Grace shot a 5-under 66 to overtake Luke Donald and win the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head Island, S.C., for his first PGA Tour title and 11th worldwide victory.

Three shots behind Donald entering the day, Grace moved to the top with four birdies on his first six holes. The South African pulled three shots in front of Donald after birdies on the 12th and 13 holes.

Grace finished at 9-under 275, two shots ahead of Donald and Russell Knox. Donald shot a 71, and Knox had a 67.

Grace earned $1,062,000 and a PGA Tour exemption through the 2017-18 season. He also became the latest to rally past hard-luck leader Donald at Harbour Town Golf Links. The Englishman has finished second four times and third twice in the past eight events here.

Brandt Snedeker shot a final-round 64 to catch Donald and win in a playoff in 2011. Matt Kuchar shot a 64 in 2014, overtaking Donald for the win with a chip-in from the bunker on the 72nd hole.

Bryson DeChambeau, the former SMU star who won the NCAA and U.S. Amateur last year, tied for fourth in his first event since turning pro, four shots behind Grace after a 68. Top-ranked Jason Day rebounded from a season-worst 79 on Saturday with a 68 to tie for 23rd at 1 under.

Spanish Open — England’s Andrew Johnston won the Spanish Open at Valderrama for his first European Tour title, closing with a 1-under 70 for a one-stroke victory.

Johnston finished at 1-over 285. The strong wind that had made conditions tough during the first three rounds subsided Sunday.

Joost Luiten of the Netherlands was second after a 71. Tournament host Sergio Garcia was third at 3 over after a 67, the 67 – the best rounds of the day.