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October 27, 2009

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Blackmar birdies to first Champions Tour crown

PHIL Blackmar won his first Champions Tour title on Sunday, with birdies on five of his first six holes en route to a 7-under 64 and a one-stroke victory over Jay Haas, Tom Kite and Andy Bean in the AT&T Championship in San Antonio.

Blackmar, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour who joined the Champions Tour late in 2007, had a 10-under 203 total on the Oak Hills course. The former University of Texas player earned US$255,000 in the final full-field event of the year.

He jumped 27 spots in the Charles Schwab Cup standings to 30th to take the last spot in the season-ending Schwab Cup in Sonoma, California. He admitted he's been thinking about getting out of golf if he had to go through qualifying school and was unsuccessful getting his card.

"I got very nervous, but I was able to hang in there," said Blackmar, who lives about 150 miles away in Corpus Christi. "This year hasn't been very much fun, so I was comfortable with getting back into broadcasting, or something else."

Haas (69) had a chance to win or force a playoff, but bogeyed the 202-yard, par-3 18th. He left his tee shot short, dumped a chip into the front bunker, then watched his third shot roll over the lip and stay out of the cup by less than an inch.

Kite (68) missed an 8-foot birdie putt on 18, and Bean (70) failed to chip in from past the green. Kite, who grew up and lives in Austin, has never won a professional tournament in his home state. John Cook, the two-time defending champion, closed with a 66 finish two shots behind Blackmar. Hale Irwin (68) was fifth at 7 under, and Keith Fergus (67), Bernhard Langer (69) and Scott Simpson (70) tied for sixth at 6 under.


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