Loren Roberts survived a battle on the final hole yesterday to win The Ace Group Classic, becoming the first golfer to open a Champions Tour season with three wins.
Roberts parred the last 12 holes, and 60-year-old Hale Irwin put his approach shot in the water on the closing hole at The Club at TwinEagles in Naples, Fla.
Playing in the group behind Irwin, Roberts two-putted from 35 feet to clinch the victory with a final-round 69 and 14-under 202 total -- one shot ahead of Brad Bryant and R.W. Eaks.
Bryant birdied the last hole to finish with a 70, and Eaks had a 67. Irwin double-bogeyed No. 18 after hitting a 7-iron from 162 yards into the water in front of the green for a 68, and tied for fourth with Tom Watson (67) at 204.
Don January, in 1981, and Larry Nelson, in 2001, each opened a season on the Champions Tour with two consecutive wins.
''The three wins this year, they've all come different ways," Roberts said. ''This one was definitely done with an ugly stick. It was a pretty ugly back nine today, but I holed a couple of putts when I had to."
The record for consecutive victories on the Tour is four by Chi Chi Rodriguez in 1987. Roberts, 50, who won his fourth tournament in nine Tour events, joins Bob Charles (1987), Lee Trevino (1992), Gil Morgan (1997-98), and Craig Stadler (2004) in winning three consecutive events on the Tour.
''I wanted to put a little mark somewhere in the record books," Roberts said. ''I did think about that a little bit on the back nine."
Irwin, who has won a record 44 times on the Tour, was going for his third victory in Naples. He won in 1998 and 2002, the latter at TwinEagles. Irwin tied for second last year.
Tour rookie Rick Karbowski (71) of Worcester, Fuzzy Zoeller (68), Tom Jenkins (66), and Gary Koch (67) tied with Don Pooley (72) for sixth at 205.
PGA -- Rory Sabbatini blew a four-shot lead, then quickly emerged from a four-way tie with a tee shot to 5 feet for birdie on the pivotal par-3 16th to escape with a one-shot victory in the Nissan Open in Los Angeles.
Sabbatini closed with a 1-over 72 -- the highest final round by a winner at Riviera since 1977 -- and had few complaints. He outlasted Riviera favorite Fred Couples and won for the first time on the PGA Tour in three years.
But he never felt safe until lagging a 45-foot putt on the 18th hole to within a foot, leaving him a tap-in for par to avoid a playoff with defending champion Adam Scott.
Scott started the final day nine shots behind, shot 31 on the back nine to close with a 64, and was on the range waiting to see if it would be good enough to force extra holes.
Sabbatini finished at 13-under 271.
European -- South Korea's Charlie Wi birdied his last hole and shot a 9-under 63 to win the Malaysian Open in Kuala Lumpur.
Wi finished the weather-shortened tournament (54 holes) at 19-under 197, edging two-time defending champion Thongchai Jaidee (66) of Thailand by one stroke.