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Jay Don Blake Wins Korean Championship, Ends 20 Year Win Drought
By Champions Tour staff
SONGDO, South Korea — Eerily similar to Russ Cochran’s maiden win last year, American Jay Don Blake captured his first Champions Tour victory at the Songdo IBD Championship presented by Korean Air, defeating John Cook, Mark O’Meara, and Peter Senior with a birdie at the fifth playoff hole and winning $456,000.
Blake was the last of the four playoff participants to have a chance to win the title in regulation but his 15-foot putt for birdie on the 54th hole slid by.
The four players returned to the par-5 18th hole after they finished 13-under 203 at the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club Korea and all four players made pars twice before heading to No. 10 for the third playoff hole where O’Meara and Senior were eliminated, both three putting for bogeys from the apron.
Cook and Blake made regulation pars at the fourth playoff hole before Blake sealed the win with a 10-foot birdie putt after Cook had lipped out from 16 feet.
“It’s not like I was out to get revenge but it’s kind of nice to even the score and take him down,” said Blake of Cook, who edged him in a playoff earlier this year at the Outback Steakhouse Pro Am in Tampa.
Blake battled injuries for the latter part of his PGA TOUR career, taking five years off to rehab and prepare for the Champions Tour. Like Cochran, his last win was over 400 starts ago (424) at the 1991 Shearson Lehman Brothers Open.
“It’s a big relief to win and feel like I can compete again and get it done,” said Blake. “I knew what Russ felt like. We’ve played a lot of golf together. It’s a pleasure to be on top again and pull through.”
This was the third consecutive playoff on the Champions Tour and the eighth of this year. The last time four players appeared in a playoff on the Champions Tour was at the 2008 ACE Group Classic won by Scott Hoch.
Senior, who finished more than one hour ahead of the other three players, was 8-under for the day through 16 holes but missed birdie chances on the final two holes. His 64 equaled the course record set by Cochran during his victory last year. It was the first time since the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in June that Senior posted a final round in the 60s.
“I drove it well all week,” said Senior. “My irons were the right distance and I had lots of birdie opportunities inside 10 feet. It was one of those days where I really got on a roll. I’ve had a good run this year. Last year was my first full year of golf in 10 years. I feel like my game is getting better.”
Tom Lehman finished fifth, two strokes out of the playoff, and extended his lead in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup, earning 150 points. He now has 2,135 points and a 451 point lead over Mark Calcavecchia. Senior, who has yet to claim a victory on the Champions Tour, is third, 490 points behind Lehman. Blake jumped from 26th to 14th on the list.
Calcavecchia, Tom Pernice Jr., David Peoples and overnight leader Michael Allen tied for sixth at 7-under 209.