Russ Cochran wins Senior British Open by 2 strokes

Posted July 24, 2011, at 6:49 p.m.
Last modified July 24, 2011, at 8:09 p.m.

WALTON ON THE HILL, England — Russ Cochran won the Senior British Open by two shots on Sunday, holding off fellow Americans Mark Calcavecchia and the fast-finishing Tom Watson to capture his first major title.

The 52-year-old Cochran claimed the winner’s check of $310,000 after making six birdies in a nerveless 5-under 67 in his final round at Walton Heath, closing at 12 under.

The lefthander picked up all his shots in the first 10 holes, opening a five-shot lead. He remained unruffled in the testing closing stretch despite a bogey on No. 14 that cut his advantage to two shots.

It was Cochran’s third victory on the Champions Tour but his first this season.

“It’s a big hump I’ve got over there,” said Cochran, whose son, Reed, was carrying his bag. “To do it in a major and on this golf course means so much. And to do it with the kids here, it’s even better.”

Cochran’s elder son, Ryan, was the caddie for Mike Goodes this week.

Calcavecchia had shared the overnight lead with Cochran and South Africa’s David Frost, but finished runner-up and was left to regret four-putting from 15 feet on the par-3 No. 9 for a double-bogey.

Looking for a record fourth Senior British Open title, Watson was tied for third with compatriot Corey Pavin (69) at 9 under after a 67.

England’s Barry Lane shot a 70 to finish fifth at 8 under.

Nothing more than a journeyman on the regular tour with only one victory to his name — at the 1991 Centel Western Open when he overhauled Greg Norman in the final round — Cochran has blossomed in his three seasons on the senior circuit.

He won two tournaments in a three-week span in September last year and has played himself into regular contention at the majors, finishing third at the Senior U.S. Open in 2009 for a key breakthrough and a check for $175,152.

That qualified him for the tour’s high-profile events and he tied for third at last year’s Senior British Open at Carnoustie.

“That’s the beauty of the senior tour. You can have these guys that come out and shine,” Watson said. “You find these stories of the guys you don’t know about.”

O’Hair wins Canadian Open

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Sean O’Hair won the RBC Canadian Open after tapping in for bogey on the first playoff hole on Sunday, and then watching fellow American Kris Blanks lip out his bogey putt from just over 5 feet.

It was the fourth PGA Tour victory for O’Hair, who started three shots off the lead before shooting 68 to get into the playoff with Blanks (70) at 4-under 276.

Argentina’s Andres Romero (70) bogeyed the final hole to miss the playoff and finish alone in third at 277. Canadian Adam Hadwin, a local playing on a sponsor’s exemption, struggled early before bouncing back late to finish with a 72 and tied with Geoff Ogilvy (70) for fourth place at 2-under. John Daly (72) finish in a four-way tie for ninth, his first top-10 in six years.

Noren captures Nordea Masters

STOCKHOLM — Alexander Noren of Sweden relied on his huge overnight lead to clinch the Nordea Masters title on Sunday, finishing seven shots clear despite a 5-over 77 in the final round.

Noren entered the day with an 11-shot lead after a course-record 63 on Saturday, and was never threatened despite a number of mishaps on a windy day in the Swedish capital. The Swede started and finished his round with a birdie but had five bogeys and a double-bogey in between for a 15-under total of 273.

His dropped shots meant little, however, with most of the other players also struggling in the tough conditions at the Bro Hof Slott course. Richard Finch finished second after becoming the only player to break par in the final round with a 3-under 69.

Niklas Lemke of Sweden had a 73 and was another three shots behind in third.

It was Noren’s third career victory on the European Tour and second of the season after taking the Wales Open title in June. With such a massive lead, the 29-year-old Swede said his only concern was getting past the 17th hole, a par-3 with an island green surrounded by water.

Miyazato wins Evian Masters

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — Ai Miyazato won the Evian Masters on Sunday, shooting a 2-under 70 to protect her two-shot lead and clinch her first title of the year.

Miyazato played with consistency throughout the tournament, dropping shots on just five of 72 holes and finishing with a 15-under total of 273. Stacy Lewis of the United States also shot a 70 to finish two shots back in second, with a trio of players another stroke behind.

Miyazato had not won a title since the Safeway Classic last August, and the 26-year-old Japanese player now has seven LPGA titles overall. She won her first LPGA title at Evian in 2009, and added five more last year.

Miyazato raised both arms in the air after she sank her winning putt, and several players ran on to the green to soak her with water.

Lewis, the Kraft Nabisco winner, kept the pressure on and moved one shot behind Miyazato with a birdie on the 15th.

Then, with a birdie chance to even the match on the next hole, Lewis three-putted for a bogey to again drop her two shots back of Miyazato.

Lewis had been self-critical after all of her previous three rounds, saying she lacked a cutting edge in the last few holes of the day.

That again proved to be the case, with Lewis’ putt for birdie on the 17th stopping agonizingly short. She could only make par on the 18th, a hole designed for attacking.

Miki Saiki of Japan, Angela Stanford of the United States, and South Korea’s I.K. Kim all finished three shots behind Miyazato.

Kim had moved into contention at 10 under following a brilliant third round of 64, but the South Korean’s bid was undone by three straight bogeys on the front nine Sunday.

Miyazato started the day with three birdies and no bogeys on the front nine. On the fifth hole, Miyazato’s drive hit the lip of the green and rolled back, leaving her a 15-yard uphill putt for birdie. She got it close enough to comfortably make par, and then birdied the sixth and had another on the eighth to surge ahead at 16 under. At that point, it looked as if it would be a comfortabl e victory.

Miyazato then showed signs of nerves on the back nine.

A bogey on the 12th and a birdie from Hong, Miyazato’s playing partner on the day, trimmed her lead to one shot.

Miyazato bounced right back with a birdie on the next hole, while Hong bogeyed to drop three behind and give Miyazato some breathing space, which she needed after another bogey on the 14th.

Stanford started her round poorly with a double-bogey on No. 1, although she made amends with three consecutive birdies halfway through the front nine.

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