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Champions Tour KitchenAid Senior PGA final round Harbor Shores

Written by on May 27, 2024

Final round leaderboard:Senior PGA championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — After putting poorly for the first three rounds of 84th KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship, England’s Richard Bland put his putter “Gamer” on notice.

Sunday at Harbor Shores, “Gamer” delivered, and Bland, a member of the LIV Tour who was in the field on a special exemption from the PGA of America, shot the day’s best round at the par-71, 6,744-yard Jack Nicklaus designed course by Lake Michigan — an eight-under-par 63 — to capture his debut senior major by three strokes. 

Richard Bland kisses his trophy after winning the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club on Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Benton Harbor, MI.

 The 51-year-old Bland, who earned $630,000 with the victory over Australian lefthander Richard Green, was thinking about changing putters after he shot a three-over 74 Saturday. Instead, he kept “Gamer” in his bag, and it helped him survive an 80-minute weather delay and an 83-player field which produced 36 under-par rounds. 

The 6-foot-4 Green, who shared the opening round lead with Bland at seven-under 64, produced a final-round 65 that included a pair of back-nine eagles at Nos. 12 and 15, his fourth and fifth of the tournament. Green was one stroke ahead of fellow lefthanded countryman Greg Chalmers, who closed with a 68. Finishing tied for fourth at 12-under 272 were Australia’s Scott Hend (66) and low senior PGA of America golf professional Jason Caron (66) of the Mill River Club in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

“I was so frustrated when I finished yesterday that I actually went out and practiced with the other putter I brought,” Bland said. “I was literally going to use it. That was it. But I got here a little early this morning and did probably an hour on the putting green with my ‘gamer’ just to kick it up the backside, so to speak.”

Message delivered, mission accomplished. Bland made eight birdie putts and one eagle putt — an eight-footer at the 514-yard 15th hole — to offset two bogeys, one a three-putt on the 192-yard 13th hole. 

The victory meant even more for Bland, who dedicated it to his brother Heath, who has been battling cancers for the past year. “I’m just so pleased that I could do this for him,” said Bland, who got emotional on the 18th green after his victory. “Like I said, this doesn’t feel like it’s my tournament. It’s his.”

Third round:Els and Chalmers lead Bland and DiMarco by a stroke heading into final round of Senior PGA

Possibly Bland’s biggest made putt of the day came at the 433-yard 14th after Chalmers had rolled in a 40-foot birdie to go to 15-under. Bland followed with an eight-footer to save par and remained a stroke behind Chalmers going to the 15th tee.

“To Richard’s credit, he iced it,” said the 50-year-old Chalmers, who bogeyed his final three holes. “He stepped up on the next hole (15), hit two beautiful shots on the par-5 and made eagle. Then the second shot he hit on 16 was world-class. To be able to be in the right rough and turn it into that pin, (Bland) won this golf tournament. He played beautiful golf today.”

Bland’s eagle putt at 15 — set up by a good drive and “the best 4-iron of my life” — allowed him to go to the 419-yard 16th with a one-shot lead over Chalmers, whose approach to the hole was long and left into dense rough. With storm clouds quickly approaching and with Bland’s own approach already in birdie range, Chalmers whiffed his third shot.

“I read the lie pretty sitting down,” Chalmers said, “so I went with speed and an open face, and I actually went straight underneath the golf ball. I just misread that lie.”

Chalmers got his fourth shot on the green and then waited 80 minutes through the delay before making his bogey putt. He then failed to get up and down out of a bunker at the par-3 17th, allowing Bland to take a three-stroke lead to the 18th tee.

“Even though I didn’t finish as strongly as I would have liked, I take solace that I was three-over at the start of the tournament on Thursday and here I am, finished third outright,” said Chalmers, who doesn’t have a full exemption on the PGA Champions Tour. His $238,000 third-place check will make it easier for him Tuesday when he attempts to qualify for the 54-hole Principal Charity Classic in Des Moines, Iowa.

A weather warning is posted on the scoreboard while Greg Chalmers lines up his putt on the 15th green during the final round of the 2024 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Harbor Shores Golf Club on Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Benton Harbor, MI.

Green’s first of two eagles came on the par-4, 423-yard 12th where he hit “half an 8-iron” in from 139 yards. The other came on the 15th where he hit a 4-iron over the Paw Paw River to 12 feet and sank the putt for his fifth eagle of the week.

“I can’t remember the last eagle I made prior to this week,” Green said. “Five in a week — just awesome. Hey, somehow I got the score down and finished second.”

Green was in the next-to-last pairing of the day with Caron, who started with two birdies and finished with five in a front-side 31 and added a sixth birdie at the par-5 10th to get to within one shot of the lead at 13-under. 

“I was so impressed with his game,” Green said of the 51-year-old Caron, who settled for a 66 with seven birdies and shared fourth with Australia’s Hend (66) at 12-under 272

“Being able to come out here and compete definitely shows me that I can hang still a little bit,” said Caron, who competed on the PGA Tour in 2000 and 2003 before settling in as a club professional. 

Finishing a stroke behind Caron and Held at 11-under 273 were American Chris DiMarco (69) and South Africa’s Ernie Els, who shared the third-round lead with Chalmers at 10-under but managed only a final-round 70. Finishing in solo eighth was defending Senior PGA champion Steve Stricker, who closed with a 68 for 274, one stroke better than South Africa’s Retief Goosen (67) and American Stewart Cink (69). 

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