Lehman birdies 18th to win Allianz Championship

Tom Lehman birdied the final hole to finish at 13 under,

breaking a tie with Jeff Sluman and Rod Spittle and winning the

Allianz Championship on Sunday.

Lehman shot a final-round 69 to win for the third time on the

Champions Tour. The 51-year-old former British Open champion had

five birdies Sunday, but he bogeyed the par-4 ninth and par-3 14th

to make things interesting on the back nine.

”It was a good day, it was a fun day,” said Lehman, who sank a

5 1/2-footer to secure the victory. ”It was pretty nip-and-tuck

all the way. No one could really get a separation. I played a

pretty steady round of golf and was fortunate to get the

victory.”

Sluman had an eagle opportunity at the par-5 18th but had to

settle for a birdie and a 69, while Spittle just missed his birdie

putt and finished with a 70.

”I knew when he missed that putt I had a chance to win,”

Lehman said. ”That’s when I got calm. It was all up to me to just

roll it in the hole.”

Russ Cochran (70) and Olin Browne (67) were another shot back at

10 under. Defending champion Bernhard Langer shot a final-round 70

to finish at 6 under for the tournament.

Lehman arrived in Florida on an overnight flight after playing

54 holes in 30 hours at the storm-plagued PGA Tour stop in his

hometown of Phoenix last week. He said that once he started playing

on Friday, the adrenaline helped him overcome fatigue and play well

this weekend.

Lehman plans on playing five more PGA events this season as well

as on the Champions Tour, and believes he can win at both levels of

the game.

”The Champions Tour is a blessing to all of us who play out

here because in most sports you’re done,” he said. ”The quality

of play is exceptional. What motivates me is wanting to still

improve. I do know I’m one of the top players out here, there’s no

doubt about that. I’m not saying that to be cocky, I just

know.”

Spittle, who spent 25 years in the insurance business before

turning pro in 2004, went into fan mode after he missed his 7-foot

putt on the 18th.

”I have the best seat in the house,” said Spittle, who won his

first Champions Tour title at the AT&T Championships last year.

”If I can’t make my putt on 18, I’m cheering for Tom to make

his.”