Stephen Ames goes wire-to-wire to win the Trophy Hassan II
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Stephen Ames, 58, picked up his third PGA TOUR Champions victory by going wire-to-wire at the Trophy Hassan II in Rabat, Morocco.
But it wasn’t without a challenge during Saturday’s final round. Australian Mark Hensby got as close as one after a birdie on No. 10, but he missed a short birdie putt at the 12th that would have tied him for the lead.
Hensby proceeded to double bogey each of the next two holes to push Ames’ lead to five, and Ames cruised home from there.
“I knew everybody else had to catch me,” Ames said. “I played the game I needed -- put the ball in play. I had opportunities but didn’t make any. Unfortunately, Mark faltered with two double bogeys.”
Hensby, 51, held on to finish solo second. It was his best finish in 11 career PGA TOUR Champions starts.
“I hit a really nice putt there (at No. 12), and it just didn’t go in,” Hensby said. “And it was unfortunate I just couldn’t put enough pressure on Stephen at that time because that was the time where I think that things could have changed, especially I would have been tied then.
“But then, as I said, I knew he wasn’t going to make a mistake so I had to kind of try and push it a little bit. As I said, then I got deflated a little bit and I was all upset with making a double. Then I got obviously a really bad lie in the bunker on the next hole, yeah, but I hung in. I had some chances. I didn’t putt very well today, and that’s what you’ve got to do to win.”
Ames, who burst from the gate with what would tie for the low round of the tournament in the first round – a 6-under 67 that included eight birdies – needed only 18 pars in the final round to seal the deal.
Ames last won at the 2021 Principal Charity Classic. He led by three shots after two rounds the last time PGA TOUR Champions was in Morocco, for the 2020 Morocco Champions, but he wound up finishing second to Brett Quigley.
“I’m elated, obviously -- the big reason being two years ago I came in second here,” Ames said. “So this was kind of a little bit of revenge.
“Everybody knows this is a tough golf course. Takes a lot of patience, and there was a lot of patience going on for me this week. I’m ecstatic about the win. It moves me forward nicely.”
Australian Richard Green, making his Champions Tour debut after finishing at the medalist at Q school, tied for third after posting a final-round 3-under 70. He was joined by Paul Stankowski, Robert Karlsson and Quigley.
“It feels awesome,” Green said. “It feels like a long career and maybe some deserved results around this course. I came here for a long time with the European Tour and played. Never really played that well, but had some tough days, and I feel like this week has been a bit of a reward for patience. Kind of understanding the course a little bit early on in the week, that it was a golf course that you needed to just hang in there.”
It was a brutal day for scoring at the Royal Golf Dar Es Salam. Only one player managed to break 70; Miguel Angel Jimenez fired a 4-under 69 to tie Colin Montgomerie for seventh.