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Again, Doyle stands alone

He wins Open for 2d straight year

Allen Doyle’s steady play gave him the upper hand on Tom Watson (background).
Allen Doyle’s steady play gave him the upper hand on Tom Watson (background). (AP Photo)

HUTCHINSON, Kan. -- Allen Doyle figured he had maybe one friend among the thousands of people following him, Tom Watson, and Loren Roberts in the final round of the US Senior Open.

``My wife was out there," deadpanned the Norwood, Mass., native. ``I think the rest were all for Tom."

Nevertheless, Doyle shot a steady 2-under-par 68 yesterday to overcome Watson's two-shot lead and home state advantage to win the Open for the second year in a row.

``I was in a no-lose position. If Tom won, he was supposed to win," Doyle said. ``If you grabbed anybody and they said they were (rooting for Doyle), they were probably lying."

A year ago in Kettering, Ohio, Doyle needed a closing round 63 to come from far back in the pack. With the win, Doyle becomes the first back-to-back US Senior Open winner since Gary Player in 1987-88 and the oldest ever at 57 years 11 months 17 days.

Pocketing first-place money of $470,000, he's also the third US Senior Open winner to post four straight rounds in the 60s.

Doyle went into the final round trailing only Watson, who built a two-stroke lead with consecutive rounds of 4-under 66 on the tricky Prairie Dunes layout.

But Watson couldn't get control of his putter. The popular Kansas City native three-putted two of the first three holes for bogey and never regained his rhythm, finishing with a 72 and a four-day total of 274, two shots behind Doyle's 8-under 272.

Several others spent the day charging into contention and then dropping out. D.A. Weibring, who bogeyed the last two holes at last year's US Senior Open and finished one stroke behind Doyle, took the lead with seven birdies on his first 12 holes to get to 7 under for the day and the tournament.

But he collapsed on the back nine with bogeys on 13 and 14 and a double bogey on the par-4 16th after driving into the rough. He shot a 68 to finish the tournament at 2 under.

Bruce Lietzke had a 66 and was tied for third with Peter Jacobsen (69) at 5 under.

Roberts, whose 8-under 62 Saturday broke the USGA Open championship record and brought him within three strokes of the lead, had a 68 and wound up at 278 along with Weibring and Jay Haas.

Watson fans might say Doyle was lucky as well. After Doyle hit into the rugged rough on No. 11, a USGA official decided his ball was in the hole of a burrowing animal and gave him a free drop.

He went on to par the hole while Watson bogeyed and fell behind by one stroke -- for good.

``The officials were there. They approved everything," Doyle said defensively. ``I said, `Is this a burrowing animal hole?' The official said, `Yes.' "

After Watson made a great recovery shot out of the thick rough to within 2 feet of the cup on No. 17, Doyle made a tough, curling 15-foot birdie putt to maintain a two-stroke lead with one to play.

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