Kite rallies on back 9 to win Boeing Classic

  • Associated Press
  • Sunday, August 24, 2008 11:33pm
  • Sports

SNOQUALMIE — Tom Kite surged past Scott Simpson with three birdies in four holes on the back nine and finished at 14-under to win his second Boeing Classic title on Sunday afternoon.

It’s the first victory for Kite since winning the 2006 Boeing Classic in a playoff over Keith Fergus, and the 10th Champions Tour title in his career. Kite was able to avoid a playoff this time by sinking three birdies inside 10 feet on the backside, then capped his 6-under round of 66 with a birdie on the 18th, finishing two shots ahead of playing partner Simpson.

Kite found himself two shots behind after bogeying the par-4 11th hole, then started his decisive string of birdies. It started on the 12th when Kite’s second shot from 133 yards landed within 8-feet. He avoided temptation to go for the green on the canyon-crossing 14th, instead playing about 50 yards short of the green, then making a 9-footer to draw even with Simpson.

Kite took the lead on the 15th, playing the long par-5 perfectly and dropping a 7-foot putt to reach 13-under, then made pars on his final three holes to cinch the victory.

Kite lost in a playoff earlier this season at The ACE Group Classic in Florida and was in the final group on Sunday at the Bank of America Championship in June, but couldn’t pull out a victory in either situation.

Meanwhile, Simpson was struggling to make pars on the back nine and let a two-shot lead to start the day vanish. He finished with a 1-under 71. Simpson birdied Nos. 1 and 7, then bogeyed the 8th, his first bogey since the final round of the JELD-WEN Tradition last week, a span of 44 holes. Simpson was then stuck at 12-under, failing to give himself any reasonable birdie chances on the back nine.

Simpson’s hopes ended when he missed a 2-foot par putt on the 16th, falling two back of Kite with two holes to play.

John Cook was tied for second when he made the turn at 10-under, but his irons started to fail him on the back nine. He saved par after poor approaches on Nos. 10 and 11, but was in the bunker on 12 and could not save his par, falling back to 9-under.

Cook made a birdie on the 16th, and added another when he placed his tee shot within 5 feet on the 185-yard par-3. By then, Kite had birdied the 15th and Cook finished two shots back.

The only player to make a charge from the back of the field was defending champion Denis Watson, who started the day at 3-under, then eagled the par-5 first when he holed out from about 65 yards. He added birdies at Nos. 4, 5, 6 and his birdie on the long par-4 11th got him to 9-under.

Then Watson started missing chances. He saw a 13-footer slide past on No. 14, then left a 10-footer on the lip at No. 15. Watson added one more birdie coming in, but his chances ended with a bogey on the par-5 18th. He finished at 9-under and tied for fifth, his best finish since tying for fifth at the Regions Charity Classic in late May.

“I was feeling like if I shot 10-under today, I could win the golf tournament,” Watson said. “If I get to 13 (under), that is tough at the end of the day.”

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