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Two final birdies lift Watson

KAUPULEHU-KONA, Hawaii — Tom Watson became the 13th oldest player to win on the Champions Tour, birdieing the final two holes Sunday for a one-stroke win over senior newcomer Fred Couples in the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

"This is what I live for in my career, to do what I did (Sunday)," Watson said. "I don't think I'll have too many more, but I had this one."

Watson, 60 and coming off a win with Jack Nicklaus in the Champions Skins at Kaanapali, closed with 7-under 65 to finish at 22-under 194 for his 13th tour title and his first victory in 34 career starts in Hawaii on the Champions and PGA tours.

After pushing his drive into the right rough on 18, Watson hit a spectacular second shot with a pitching wedge from 147 yards that rolled 20 feet on the green and stopped 4 feet from the hole.

Couples, who closed with a bogey-free 64, just missed his 15-foot birdie putt to the left on the final hole. Watson calmly sank the winner and waved his cap to the roaring crowd, ending a duel he dubbed "young kid vs. old fart."

"It wasn't over until he said it was over," said Couples, who turned 50 in October and was making his tour debut.

Watson is the oldest tour winner since Gil Morgan in the 2007 First-Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Last year no winner was older than 55, something Watson said early last week he hoped to "rectify."

"I didn't win (any tournament) last year," he said. "That's how I judge my year. If I win a golf tournament, it's a success. So I started off the year with a success."

Couples didn't seem too upset with his finish.

"I had a wonderful time. I think I was 21 under par and didn't win a tournament. That hasn't happened too many times," he said.

PGA: Bubba Watson double-bogeyed the final hole in the fourth round at the Bob Hope Classic, dropping him back into a tie with tour rookie Alex Prugh at 23-under 265 heading into today's finale in the five-round pro-am event at La Quinta, Calif. Watson finished with 3-under 69 to match Prugh (70). Bill Haas and Tim Clark were a stroke back after 66s. The event was pushed back a day after rain washed out play Thursday.

European: Martin Kaymer birdied the 18th hole to win the Abu Dhabi Championship with a one-shot victory over Ian Poulter in the United Arab Emirates. Kaymer had 6-under 66 to finish at 21-under 267. Poulter (66) missed a 15-foot birdie putt to force a playoff. Rory McIlroy (67) was third at 269.

Two final birdies lift Watson 01/24/10 [Last modified: Monday, January 25, 2010 12:07am]
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