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Late Bloomer
JIM GORANT
July 24, 2006
Bobby Wadkins emerges at the Players
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July 24, 2006

Late Bloomer

Bobby Wadkins emerges at the Players

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To the rest of the world the thrill of winning a senior major might appear to be diluted by the sheer number of them, but don't tell that to Bobby Wadkins. Even though the Champions tour is in the midst of a four-week stretch during which it contests three of its majors, Wadkins's wobbly win at the Ford Senior Players represents a professional and personal high for a guy who never claimed a title in 14 full seasons on the PGA Tour and has labored throughout his career in the shadow of his talkative and talented older brother, Lanny (21 PGA Tour wins). With the Players triumph, his second of the year and third on the senior circuit, Bobby, 55, has now flipped the script on Lanny, who has won only once since turning 50 in 1999. Best of all, Bobby, who started the final round four strokes behind Loren Roberts, grabbed the lead with a very Lanny-like hot streak of five straight birdies on the back nine. The fiery burst brought Bobby to 18 with a three-shot cushion, and he needed all of it, flailing around before finally sinking a 12-footer for a double bogey and a one-shot win at 14-under 274. Down the stretch Bobby admitted that he was thinking about Lanny, who was calling the action from the CBS tower. Of the final putt Bobby said, "I had to make it. I can't imagine the abuse I would have caught from him tonight [if I hadn't]." ... Wadkins led the field in greens hit in regulation, missing only 12 all week.

ALSO ...

? John Senden became the 18th first-time winner in the 35-year history of the John Deere Classic. He also became the eighth first-time winner of the season, including the last three in a row ( Trevor Immelman, Western; J.J. Henry, Buick). ?David Gosset finished at even-par 284, good for 75th place, but more important, it was Gosset's first made cut since the 2004 Honda Classic, 28 months ago. ?Billy Hurley III, the Annapolis grad and 2005 Walker Cupper who's trying to convince the Navy that he could better serve it by playing on the PGA Tour instead of floating around the globe, made his second cut in five starts. Hurley wound up in 47th place after a seven-under 277. ? Casey Watabu, 22, defeated Anthony Kim, 21, to win the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Gold Mountain Golf Club in Bremerton, Wash. The 4-and-3 result was something of an upset as Watabu was a long shot from Hawaii who played at Nevada, while Kim, who played for Oklahoma, was a Publinx semifinalist last year and also a member of the '05 Walker Cup team.

> For Alan Shipnuck's British Open blog go to SI.com/golf.

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