Blake wins Boeing Classic in playoff
Jay Don Blake watched his putt lip out and figured his best shot at winning was over.
Mark O’Meara just doesn’t miss putts inside 8 feet, in a playoff nonetheless.
"I’ve got my hand out of my pocket waiting to shake his hand is what I was kind of doing," Blake said. "I didn’t expect him to miss it."
But O’Meara watched his putt slide to the right on the first playoff hole and Blake had another chance that he took advantage of with a birdie Sunday to win the Boeing Classic for his third career Champions Tour title.
Playing the par-5 18th hole for the third time in less than an hour, Blake tapped in for birdie after O’Meara’s 15-foot birdie attempt missed on the low side of the hole. Blake and O’Meara also birdied the hole in regulation for matching 4-under 68s that left them tied at 10-under 206. They missed short birdie putts on the first extra hole.
"I wasn’t calm. I was churning inside quite a bit," Blake said.
O’Meara has finished second four times since his last Champions Tour title in 2010.
"I would say that it’s been disappointing to finish second this many times out here on the Champions Tour," O’Meara said. "I take pride in my wins on the regular tour and the way I performed in the majors. Not to close the deal, it’s a little bit frustrating."
Blake won twice last year on the 50-and-over tour, taking the Songdo IBD Championship in a playoff that included O’Meara in South Korea and the Charles Schwab Open Cup.
Blake’s third title came thanks to a solid back nine, and four good shots in the playoff.
Playing No. 18 for the third time, O’Meara pulled his second shot on the 498-yard, uphill hole, into the rough left of the green and his pitch checked up short. Blake went into the rough behind the green with his second shot, but his pitch nearly went in, leaving him with a tap-in birdie attempt.
"I do feel like I belong. I feel like I can compete when I get things going well, playing well," Blake said. "Not in an arrogant way, but I don’t’ really feel like I’m that intimidated by the players out there."
The playoff marked the fourth time in eight years that the event has gone to extra holes.
Willie Wood, coming off his first tour victory last week in New York in the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, had a 70 to finish a stroke back. Michael Allen and defending champion Mark Calcavecchia followed at 8 under.
Tom Jenkins was 9 under and two shots ahead entering the day in a bid to become the oldest winner in Champions Tour history. But the 64-year-old made four bogeys on the front nine and had a 78 to tie for 21st at 3 under.
O’Meara recovered from an opening 74 with a 64 on Saturday to get into contention. He birdied three of his final five holes, recovering from a double bogey on No. 11, his only blemish during the round.
Blake also had just one hiccup in his round. His bogey on the par-3 13th gave O’Meara the opening he needed to pull even. O’Meara nearly won on the final hole of regulation, but his long eagle putt curled around the high side of the cup.
Blake also had an eagle chance in regulation, but his putt from off the green slid past the edge of the hole while O’Meara watched from the fairway. O’Meara played his second shot on the par 5 to the middle of the green, content to take his chances with a 35-footer that nearly found the cup.
On the first playoff hole, Blake missed a short birdie putt first, giving O’Meara a chance at the title. But his 8-footer slid right of the hole and sent the duo to a second playoff hole.
This week was O’Meara’s third event since coming back from a rib injury that cost him four months and forced him to miss the Masters and the British Open.
"At least I’m moving in the right direction," O’Meara said. "This year’s been a tough year just with the injury and everything and being away from the game for so long."