Zoeller captures first tournament in 16 years
BY Bruce Young | Champions Tour | 2002 Senior PGA Championship | Wrap | 10 Jun 2002
Fuzzy Zoeller, perhaps perceived more as the clown of golf, rather than the fine player he is, won his first tournament in nearly sixteen years when he captured the second major of the Seniors year the US Seniors PGA Championship.
Zoeller, the winner of both the US Masters (1979) and the US Open (1984) has been plagued by back injuries since 1984 and has had to undergo surgery on several occasions to remedy ruptured discs. His last win had come in 1986, a year where he won on three occasions. His last few seasons as a regular tour player have been difficult, due to the continuation of the back problems, and perhaps to some extent, as a result of the controversy that surrounded his run in with Tiger Woods. He had made a comment leading into the 1998 US Masters regarding just what Tiger would choose for his Champions dinner. Each year at the Masters, the champion from the previous year gets to choose a menu for the dinner prior to the tournament and Zoeller had made a comment that was inferred by many as being racist. It was flippant and stupid and, no doubt, a comment that he regrets to this day, but it was Zoeller playing the role that has become expected of him, offering the quick quip. Likely no hurt intended, but ill advised and Tiger took it to heart.
Like him or not however, Zoeller is still the type of player the Seniors Tour needs. He is an entertainer and feeds off the golf fans. Having turned fifty only last November, he has a great career ahead of him on that tour provided he can remain sound of body.
His win over Hale Irwin on the great course at Firestone was one that he will treasure due to the quality of the golf course and the quality of those that he beat. He withstood the mounting pressure down the stretch as both Hale Irwin, and third round leader, Bobby Wadkins came at him. To have won in that way, after so long away from serious contention, will do wonders for Zoeller it would seem. His cheque for $USD 360,000 was the largest of his career.
Irwin and Wadkins tied for second, with Jim Thorpe and Ray Vucinich in fourth place.
Bob Charles was the leading player form down under. At 65 his effort was first class. Perhaps he was reminiscing as he played the course back to the mid sixties when he would have played the Firestone layout in the many televised series they had there back then. He finished 18th, Rodger Davis 32nd, Noel Ratcliffe 61st and Ian Stanley 60th.