Stephen Ames held off a charge from former champ, Bernhard Langer, to win the 2017 Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
Ames held the lead entering Sunday’s final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic, but the leaderboard was tight and there were big names everywhere. Apparently it didn’t affect him.
He won his first PGA TOUR Champions title, at TPC Sugarloaf while shooting an impressive bogey-free 6-under 66. He finished at 15 under for the week, four shots ahead of Charles Schwab Cup leader Bernhard Langer.
“It’s fun, that’s for sure,” Ames said. “It’s the same feeling as any tour that you win on. It’s a thrill, it’s a real thrill right now.”
A key moment came at No. 7 when Ames’ lead had shrunk to one shot. But he chipped in for birdie, prompting him to continue to build his lead as the final round wore on.
“It wasn’t an overly tough chip, I just had to make sure that I got the club under the ball where I could create the spin that I needed to get it to stop,” Ames said. “I had read the line like a putt and I picked my spot where I wanted to land it, and when I hit the ball and it came off the face, it was like, ‘Oh, this felt good,’ and it landed on my spot. The ball went into the hole like a putt, so it was perfectly executed. Great chip.”
It was the 49th career start for Ames on the PGA TOUR Champions. His best finish was a T4 at last year’s Tucson Conquistadores Classic. Entering the week, Ames had recorded two top-10 finishes in the first five events. He only had three top-10 finishes in all of 2016.
Langer made a big run in the final round. But after starting the day too far back in the pack, he ran out of holes despite a stellar round of 7-under 65.
Fred Funk, David Frost and Brandt Jobe finished in a tie for third, five shots back of Ames. Defending champion Woody Austin had a strong showing and ended the week at T6. Ames won four times during a successful career on the PGA TOUR, including THE PLAYERS Championship in 2006. Ames becomes the 11th player to win on the Web.com Tour, the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions.
Stephen Ames, 67-68-66 – 201 (-15)
• Ames, the 36-hole leader, protected his one-stroke lead by birdying No. 1. He followed with birdies on Nos. 3 and 6, and his chip-in birdie on No. 7 got him to 13-under. No other player was better than 11-under at any point on Sunday.
• The 15-under-par total is a new tournament record, bettering Miguel Angel Jimenez’s 14-under total in 2014.
• He won $270,000 and is now No. 5 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings with $382,800.
• He won four times on the PGA TOUR, including the 2006 PLAYERS Championship. With the win, Ames is now the 11th player to win on the Web.com Tour, PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions.
• Ames becomes the third Canadian to win on PGA TOUR Champions, joining Dave Barr (2003 Royal Caribbean Classic) and Rod Spittle (2010 AT&T Championship).
• Born in San Fernando, Trinidad, Ames holds dual citizenship of Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. In 2014, he was inducted into the Canadian Golf Hall of Fame.
• Ames is the first first-time winner since Doug Garwood won the SAS Championship last October.
• He only made two bogeys on the week, fewest in the field.
• His 15-under total is his best 54-hole score in relation to par on this Tour. Earlier this season, he was 14-under and finished T6 at the Allianz Championship.
• He now has three top-10s in five starts this season (T6, Allianz Championship; T9, Tucson Conquistadores Classic). He had three top-10s in 20 starts in 2016.
• Playing with the 36-hole lead for the first time in his PGA TOUR Champions career, Stephen Ames converted it into his first career victory.
• This marks the second time a 36-hole leader has gone on to win this season. Scott McCarron won after being one of four co-leaders after the second round of the Allianz Championship.
• All six winners this season have played in the last group in the final round.