Sweet 16 for Larry Mize

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

BLAINVILLE, Que. - The par-4 16th hole at the Fontainebleau golf club was 262 yards of temptation and consternation Sunday, it’s flag beckoning from the menacing edge of the water on the left.

The risk-reward hole, the first leg of the trio of finishing holes around a big lake behind the clubhouse, wound up being the ground upon which the inaugural Montreal Championship on the Champions Tour was decided.

Larry Mize, the former Masters champ, got his first win since 1993 after he birdied the hole. It was one of seven birdies he recorded on a day that included an eagle and bogey as he roared in with an eight-under-par 64.

John Cook, who took the lead into Sunday’s final round, did not.

“That was the championship,” said Cook, who was fooled by what he saw in his 3-footer and saw it miss on the right.

Cook couldn’t find a birdie on the last two holes and Mize had his first Champions Tour event, along with first-place money of $270,000 US, with a 17-under-par total of 199.

Tied for third spot three shots back were Dan Forsman with a 65 and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin with a 67, both for 202 totals.

When Mize walked onto the tee of the 16th, he had a two-shot lead which dictated his strategy. His miss with the driver on the week was to the right, the wind was going that way, and he didn’t want to wind up in the bunker complex which guards the bailout shot away from the water.

He opted to layup with a 5-iron off the tee.

“I had a two-shot lead at the time which I knew wasn’t going to be a two-shot lead (once the challengers behind him went through there). I thought the right play at that moment was an iron off 16. It turned out well. I thought I could still make birdie with a wedge in my hand, which I did,” said Mize, who sank a 12-footer.

“I wanted somebody to come up and beat me. I didn’t want to give it away.”

It turned out to be the right strategy and helped pave the way back to the winner’s circle for the man who once made one of the most memorable shots in the game, sinking that pitch from off the 11th green in a playoff in the 1987 Masters to beat Greg Norman.

There wasn’t anything that dramatic on Sunday, but it was still an emotional win for the 51-year-old.

“I was holding back some emotion and the emotion flooded through,” said Mize when Cook’s attempt from about 25 feet on the 18th hole to force a playoff faded right of the hole. “I teared up a bit. It’s been a long time.”

Mize took the lead with an eagle on the par-5 10th hole, jumping in front of Cook and Joey Sindelar as he dropped to 15-under par. He backslid for a moment with a bogey on 12, but then reeled off three birdies in a row ending with that key birdie on 16 to surge into a two-stroke lead.

Cook cut that in half with a chip-in birdie on 15, but couldn’t find another birdie to tie it.

Even though he was frustrated with 16, Cook still sang the praises of the short par-4.

“I love it,” said Cook, noting friend and architect Tom Weiskopf always incorporates the risk-reward four-par into his designs. “Any time you can make two, three, four or five, a hole like that is very exciting. If it’s so ridiculous you can make seven or eight, or something stupid, that’s not a good hole.”

The 16th yielded one eagle Sunday and 36 birdies, three bogeys and one “other.”

The most important of those 36 birdies belonged to Mize.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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