Ken Duke wins Shaw Charity Classic for first PGA TOUR Champions victory
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Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
Ken Duke won for the first time on PGA TOUR Champions in his 100th start, rolling in a 6-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to beat Tim Petrovic and Thongchai Jaidee by a stroke at the Shaw Charity Classic presented by Rogers in Calgary.
“This is exciting. I mean, I've always dreamed about this,” Duke, 54, said. “This is where I started my professional career up here in Canada and I always thought that I'd win up here, and here we are. I mean, 1996 to 2003, so here we are finally doing it.
Ken Duke's emotion-filled closing birdie to win at Shaw Charity
“What a great event. The people here in Calgary are special. Everyone up here in Canada are great. They've always welcomed me all the years that I've played here.”
Petrovic was seeking his first Champions Tour victory as well, and he entered the day at 12 under and with a two-stroke lead over Duke. They were playing in the final group together.
But for much of the back nine, they both trailed Thongchai Jaidee. The native of Thailand started the final round seven shots behind Petrovic, but he blistered the Canyon Meadows course with an 8-under 62 to reach 13 under.
In windy conditions, the scoring was the highest it had been all week, nearly two strokes higher than on Saturday. Through 12 holes, Duke was two behind Jaidee and Petrovic was one back.
Duke and Petrovic both birdied the par-4 13th. Duke added a birdie at the par-4 15th to make it a three-way tie for the lead at 13 under.
Ken Duke's interview after winning the Shaw Charity Classic
It all set up for a dramatic finish at the 18th, a reachable par 5 for some that Jaidee had, in fact, hit just over the green on his second shot with a hybrid. But he managed to get up and down for birdie.
Duke’s drive found the fairway, but he was 240 yards out and laid up to wedge distance. Petrovic cut his drive into the right rough, so he was forced to lay up.
That’s when Petrovic, in his 134th PGA TOUR Champions start, made a critical mistake. He yanked his second all the way across the fairway into the left rough. It nestled down, and he had 129 yards to the hole. Hitting first in the group, Petrovic didn’t catch it like he wanted, and it ended up about 40 feet short of the hole.
Duke had 105 yards and as soon as he hit it exclaimed, “Be the one!” The ball flew just over the flag and spun back below the hole.
“I had 105 yards. That's exactly the number I had at Hartford in 2013 when I won in a playoff against Chris Stroud,” Duke said. “All it was was a 52(-degree) sand wedge, just hitting the range shot and just focus on it and just do that. A great memory of that win, and obviously I hit a good shot here as well.”
Petrovic nestled his putt inside a foot. It set the stage for Duke, whose lone win on the PGA TOUR had come at the Travelers Championship in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2013. He stroked the putt and with the ball still a foot away, he had started into a full-blown fist pump.
“I did not see it go in,” Duke said. “I knew it was straight, I just hoped it did not move out. I did not see it go in. I did not see the one in Hartford go in, either, but it was in, it was in.”
Ken Duke emerges victorious at Shaw Charity Classic
It capped a 66 for Duke. Petrovic (69) finished in a tie for second with Jaidee.
“Unfortunately, on 18 I just laid it up in the rough,” Petrovic said. “It was in the worst spot possible with that tight pin and had to play to the left just to give myself a putt at it. Almost made it, that would have been nice.
“It was a little breezier today, a little bit tougher, different wind. Everybody was battling out there.”