Cejka wins Senior PGA for second straight major

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TULSA, Okla. — Alex Cejka gained the Senior PGA Championship on Sunday for his second straight main championship, thriving on correct and highly effective ball-striking and deft contact across the demanding greens at Southern Hills.

Cejka shot a 3-under 67 for a 4-stroke victory over Tim Petrovic, three weeks after he beat Steve Stricker in a playoff within the Areas Custom in Alabama.

“It is unimaginable,” Cejka mentioned. “Seeing and figuring out all these names who’re up there on the trophy and being on the trophy myself, it is a dream come true. … Monday after I performed for the primary time right here, I walked these fairways and keep in mind seeing this on TV in all these years, and I am unable to even describe the way it feels to be right here and touching the trophy. I am simply tremendous blessed. I am tremendous comfortable. It is an unimaginable feeling proper now.”

Cejka fled the Czech Republic together with his father at age 9, settling finally in West Germany, the place he took up golf and turned skilled at age 18.

Stricker had a 1-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical, and lots of anticipated one other duel to the end. That duel vanished early, with Stricker’s normally dependable placing failing him vastly. He missed seven putts within 8 ft, and his ball-striking additionally was off, resulting in a 77 that dropped him right into a tie for eleventh.

After a birdie on the first, Cejka had a nervous bogey-bogey stretch on Nos. 2 and three. However with Mike Weir and Stricker making a large number of issues round him, he steadily pulled away with birdies on Nos. 5, 7, 11 and 12.

From there Cejka held on, getting up-and-down from greenside bunkers and overcoming a water ball on the par-5 thirteenth that led to his solely bogey on the again 9. He additionally drove right into a creek on the par-4 tenth however, after taking a drop, hit his third shot to six ft and saved par.

He completed at 8-under 272.

Cejka mentioned seeing what was occurring to Stricker and Weir early was a shock to his system. Weir began the day three pictures again and shot 72.

“I used to be truly nearly in shock, which threw my recreation off completely,” he mentioned. “I used to be anticipating him [Stricker, who began the day at 6 under] to return out and simply put a lot strain on, as nice a participant as he usually is. Nevertheless it’s golf.”

Cejka gained 3 times on the European Tour in 1995 and a fourth occasion in 2002 earlier than shifting to the US. He performed the PGA Tour from 2002 to 2011 earlier than dropping his standing however regained it in 2015, the 12 months he gained the Puerto Rico Open for his lone PGA Tour victory.

He joined the PGA Tour Champions with out sufficient profession cash winnings for full standing and was an alternate into the Custom. He additionally completed second within the Chubb Championship in April. He no longer solely has earned full standing but additionally will probably be again at Southern Hills in 2022 for the PGA Championship, for which he will probably be barely youthful than defending champion Phil Mickelson.

Petrovic additionally closed with a 67.

“I simply put the blinders on and play my recreation,” Petrovic mentioned. “I believe that is been the important thing for me in all these runner-up finishes. Certainly one of lately I will punch one by.”

Bernhard Langer, Jerry Kelly, Paul McGinley and others waited on the primary tee to congratulate Cejka on the torrid begin to his senior profession and the spectacular efficiency at Southern Hills.

“After he gained Areas Custom, you recognize, he was actually significant in saying, ‘I lastly really feel like one among you guys,'” Kelly mentioned. “Now he is been an awesome participant for a very long time and he is put in a lot time. He is taking part in the Outlaw Excursions in Arizona. He is performed every part he can. He by no means gave up, and that is the reward that is occurring proper now. I imply, I believe it is an superior story. He is an awesome man. He works his butt off. He retains his head down and goes and will get it. I believe it is superior.”

Retief Goosen, the winner of the 2001 U.S. Open at Southern Hills, had a 66 to tie for third with Ok.J. Choi at 3 underneath. Choi briefly tied Cejka for the lead after 4 birdies in his first seven holes earlier than settling for a 68.

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