American Allen Doyle fired a closing two under par 68 to overtake Tom Watson and successfully defend his US Senior Open crown in Hutchinson, Kansas on Sunday. Doyle, who began the day trailing Watson by two strokes, mixed five birdies with three bogeys at the Prairie Dunes Golf Club for a winning total of eight under par 272.
Watson, a Kansas native with eight major titles, lost his way on the final day, returning a 72 to finish with a six under total of 274 and become US Senior Open runner-up for a third time.
Finishing just three shots off the pace in a tie for third at five under 275 were two former US Senior champions, 2003 winner Bruce Lietzke (66) and 2004 champion Peter Jacobsen (69). European Seniors Tour Member Mark James, who was in contention going into the final day, slipped back with a closing 75 to finish in a tie for 14th place on one over par 281 alongside, amongst others, Mark McNulty.
"It's incredible," said Doyle. "You look at today at the last few groups, and Jake (Peter Jacobsen) is playing well and he's played well in the U.S. Opens.
"He won it two years ago and he got to seven under, and Tom and Loren Roberts have been beating us up pretty good this year. Fred Funk was supposed to be the next guy, so to handle all those guys is pretty neat.
"I would have to say that it (is my biggest win), this is pretty huge." Doyle carded a then record eight-under 63 to lift last year's title, and needed another final day charge to retain his title. This year, however, his rally was more workmanlike than spectacular as he became the first repeat winner since Gary Player in 1987-88.
Watson said: "It got off to a bad start today with two three-putts on two and three and that put me in a defensive type of mood. I just didn't get the offense working today.
"I felt like I was playing defense all day. And as a result, I shot the score I did.
"I'm playing in front of my home crowd at a great golf course, Prairie Dunes, in my home state, and the most important championship in our Tour and I didn't win. It's very disappointing."