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Tewell runs away with Tradition

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Doug Tewell believes in holding a lead, not sitting on one.

He demonstrated the difference Sunday, shooting a tournament-record 10-under-par 62 in the final round of the Tradition to win by nine strokes over Mike McCullough and become the event's second wire-to-wire leader in 13 years.

McCullough and Larry Nelson, who made up the final threesome with Tewell, had disastrous starts early in the round. As it turned out, Tewell didn't need any help.

His 23-under 265 total also set a record, beating the 266 shot by Gil Morgan in 1997, when Morgan led from the start.

"We talked about the zone, and the zone was there today for me," Tewell said. "I just stayed in it, stayed within myself, stayed away from the mistakes, and that's what you have to do, I think, to win a major."

Tewell, the senior Rookie of the Year in 2000, won his second major title and fourth overall on the senior circuit. He won his first three championships last year, starting with the PGA Seniors' Championship last April.

A strong frontrunner, Tewell led his last major going into the final round, was one stroke back before winning in San Antonio and was tied for the lead in Park City, Utah, before the final round.

McCullough double-bogeyed the second hole by two-putting from 4 feet and also bogeyed the fifth, but recovered with seven birdies in the last 13 holes for a 69 — his seventh consecutive score in the 60s.

"I don't shoot 14 under too many times, I really don't," McCullough said. "But Doug, he shot 62. That's the course record, and he did it in these conditions. Guys, you could drop the ball from straight up and down, and it would still roll. The greens were very firm. I can't say enough about what Doug did."

Hale Irwin, who has won every other senior major but can't find the key at the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain, shot a 67 to finish third at 275.

Morgan was fourth at 277, with J.C. Snead and Nelson, who had two double bogeys and finished with a 75, at 280.

The winning score on the 6,961-yard layout broke the record of 64 set by Al Geiberger in 1993 and matched by Jim Colbert (1995), Rocky Thompson (1996) and Nelson (2001).

Tewell began the final round with a two-shot lead over Nelson and McCullough after making his only three bogeys of the tournament Saturday to make things close.

But, as soon as the threesome began play, it was apparent Tewell was on his way to victory.

He birdied the first hole while McCullough bogeyed, and on No. 2 McCullough had a double bogey and fell six strokes back. Then Nelson double-bogeyed the third, allowing Tewell to open a five-shot lead, and Tewell birdied the fourth. From then on, nobody got closer than five shots.

"He was the guy I was really worried about," Tewell said about Nelson. "He and Hale would be the two guys that I really had to worry about. But I'll tell you what — Mike McCullough has become a player. He can play with the best of them now, and he started coming back.

"I knew he could eagle the par-5s, and I just kept running."

Tewell slammed the door with emphasis when he went from 16 under to 20 under on the first three holes of the back nine.

He birdied Nos. 10 and 11 and rolled in a 20-foot eagle putt on the 12th hole, which he eagled the day before by blasting out of a bunker.

"That really won the golf tournament," Tewell said. "That three-hole stretch right there basically put it away."

Tewell hadn't won since the Utah event last August, and came in 28th on the money list. The $255,000 first prize catapulted him to eighth.

The Tradition, sponsored by Countrywide, was Tewell's eighth tournament this year and marked his fourth top 10 finish. He withdrew from an event in San Jose, Calif., last month after shooting 78 in the first round.