BENTON HARBOR, Mich. Rocco Mediate holed out from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-3 17th to wrap up a record-setting, wire-to-wire victory Sunday in the Senior PGA Championship.
Smoking cigars during the round, the 53-year-old Mediate closed with a 5-under 66 - holing a 15-footer for par on the last hole at Jack Nicklaus-designed Harbor Shores, for a three-stroke victory over two-time defending champion Colin Montgomerie.
"It just turned out really cool," Mediate said of the win. "I didn't even know I shot 66, I didn't know what the hell I shot today. But when I add it up, no wonder why but a lot of great things happened today and I don't believe I'm sitting here, I really don't."
Mediate finished at 19-under 265 to break the tournament record of 268 set by Sam Snead in 1973 at PGA National. The six-time PGA Tour winner became the first wire-to-wire winner in the event since Nicklaus in 1991 at PGA National. Mediate matched the course and tournament records with an opening 62 and added rounds of 66 and 71 to take a two-stroke lead over Montgomerie into the final round.
It's the first major championship for Mediate, who lost to Tiger Woods in an 18-hole playoff in 2008 at the U.S. Open.
"The U.S. Open in 2008 was a great test and I passed. I just lost," Mediate said. "This was a great test. I passed and I was fortunate to win. Really fortunate to win."
Mediate led by two strokes heading to 17 where he found himself in the bunker on the par 3. That's when he chipped in for birdie and sealed the win.
"As soon as it left the club, I knew it had a chance," Mediate said. "Obviously I didn't know it was going to make it, of course not, but I had a feeling I might. And then that kind of -- that made a big difference. It made a huge difference."
Montgomerie shot a 67 - and matched Snead for the second-best total in tournament history. The 52-year-old Scot won in 2014 at Harbor Shores and last year at French Lick in Indiana.
Bernhard Langer was attempting to become the first man to win all five senior majors and made a monster push when he produced four birdies and an eagle over five straight holes. Langer would finish 3rd. He also finished in the top five at Harbor Shores in 2012 and 2014.
"The goal was to win it, the first guy to ever win five different majors and this tournament has just eluded me and the clock is ticking," said Langer, who will be 59 when the 2017 Senior PGA Championship tees off.
One of the best stories of the week was John DalCorobbo of Speedway, Indiana finishing in 7th place. DalCorobbo is the golf coach at Speedway High School and the assistant golf pro at Brickyard Crossing, the golf course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So his amazing weekend was capped off on Indy 500 Sunday.
"The 100th running of the 500, the 100th anniversary of the PGA of America and I get to play golf for four days and play pretty well in front of friends and family in a pretty special place," DalCorobbo said.
The Senior PGA Championship heads to Trump National in Washington DC in 2017 and then returns to Harbor Shores in 2018. It will be back every other year to Benton Harbor through 2024.