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Champions Tour: Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am news and notes

Man on the run

Loren Roberts figured he needed 6 under to get into contention. He started the final round at 2 under, seven off the lead. He got within a stroke of the leaders on the back nine but finished with 4-under 67 to tie for third.

His round was one of the lowest of the day, and it was his third top-10 finish in seven starts. He bogeyed the third hole but followed with three birdies and an eagle on the par-5 12th.

"I thought if I could go 6 under (Sunday) and get to 8 under, that might be good,'' Roberts said. "This is a hard golf course to finish on because there's some awkward driving and you have to hit good iron shots. For me, it's the putter. If the putter is working, then I don't have to hit it stiff to make birdies. (Sunday) the putter was working.''

Roberts, who has won eight times on the Champions Tour, said it was nice to see Nick Price pick up his first.

"We've all been rooting for Nicky to win out here,'' Roberts said. "I'm surprised it (hadn't) happened yet."

More amateurs

Comedian George Lopez, below, had Sunday's low amateur round and finished tied for 12th. Derrick Brooks played steady, with a handicapped 66-66-65 over three days, but the former Bucs linebacker and defending champion tied for last among the 16 amateurs who made Saturday's cut.

Lithia golfer takes amateur title

Lithia's Mike Potthoff isn't as famous as last year's amateur champion, former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks, but he's probably more likely to stand out in a crowd.

Potthoff, who is 6 feet 8 and a 42-year-old sales director for Anheuser-Busch, edged retired NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde, left, by one stroke Sunday.

"It was a great day, the best golf I've played since I started playing about 10 years ago," Potthoff said.

"When I didn't do very well, my pro did great, and when my pro wasn't doing so well, I'd par for a net birdie. It was a perfect scenario for us the last three days."

Potthoff played basketball and baseball at Missouri and played some minor-league baseball after being drafted by the Dodgers in 1989.

He said he plays a few times a month, mostly with customers in charity events, and calls River Hills Country Club his home course. Potthoff played with Vicente Fernandez, 63, who has three Outback top 10 finishes in the past six years. Potthoff was 5 under over the final seven holes, allowing him to finish ahead of Testaverde, who had a chance to win but parred the final three.

Playing taps

Jay Haas had a share of the lead at 7 under with five holes to play, but he couldn't sink tough putts down the stretch, tapping in on each of the last four holes. Haas missed a 10-foot par putt on 15, a tough up-and-down 20-footer on 16 and another 10-foot par putt on 17. His toughest luck came on the final hole, where a 15-footer went around the cup. The last putt dropped him from a tie for third to sixth place, costing him $20,683.

Strange turnaround

Curtis Strange lived up to his surname, standing last in the field of 76 after rounds of 80-79, then shooting 4-under 67 to finish tied for 67th.

Rounds123

Eagles———

Birdies—16

Pars10910

Bogeys772

Double bogeys11—

Best and worst

Over three days and 227 rounds, the field totaled 15 eagles, and 10 came on the par-5 12th, including Loren Roberts and Bernhard Langer on Sunday. The hole also accounted for 101 birdies, 34 more than any other hole. The toughest hole was the 15th, a long par 4 where golfers averaged .38 strokes over par, with the most bogeys (62) and double bogeys (18).

Crowd favorite, Gator style

Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith tied for third among amateurs, three strokes off the lead, and was paired with pros Larry Nelson and Jay Haas. Smith had a birdie putt on 16 and just missed another on 17, drawing louder cheers from the gallery than the pros. "I'm a Florida native, and I went to the University of Florida. This is Gator country, all throughout the state," Smith said. "That's just the way it is. Those Seminoles think they run everything, but they don't. They're just participating." Smith, 39, plays two Champions Tour pro-ams each year, Pebble Beach and Lutz, and said he golfs regularly enough to be disappointed with even a third-place showing. "I play enough to play better than I did (Sunday)," he said.

Champions Tour: Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am news and notes 04/19/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 19, 2009 9:39pm]
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