Eduardo Romero was left to rue a costly double-bogey as the Argentine missed out on winning back-to-back Senior Major Titles in the 68th US Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course on Sunday.
Denis Watson of Zimbabwe took advantage of Romero’s first big mistake of the week to secure a two stroke win with a 72 hole aggregate of nine under par 279.
Two-time Wentworth Senior Masters champion Romero, who led after each of the first three rounds, was undone by a five on the par three 14th, a hole which Watson birdied en route to becoming the first international player to win the Championship since Gary Player in 1990.
The victory was Watson's first since winning three times on the US PGA Tour 23 years ago.
“Words cannot describe the feeling. These last few weeks I have begun believing in my ability again,” said the 51 year old Watson, who closed with a four under par 68.
Romero, who shot an even par 72 in the final round, had led through 67 holes until he ran into disaster in the form of a double-bogey five on the 14th hole.
Romero’s slip, combined with Watson’s brilliant 12-foot birdie conversion that snuck in the right edge of the cup, produced a three shot swing that gave Watson a two stroke advantage with four holes to play.
“It cost me a lot,” said Romero, who had just eight bogeys or worse for the week, four of which came on the par threes. “Three strokes in one hole are too much. But I played good, I was just unlucky and played bad for one hole and then I just lost the tournament by that. I'm very happy with my game.
“I am very sad not to win this week, because I feel very strong, I feel I was playing fantastic, but the golf it's like this.”
After watching Watson knock his tee shot to ten feet at the 14th, Romero yanked his into the waste area that protects the left side of the green. The ball buried so deep into the face of the waste area that only the top quarter of the ball was visible.
Romero elected to take an unplayable lie and took a penalty drop two club lengths away and out of the waste area, which turned out to be no bargain. With plenty of fluffy sand within his drop area, Romero’s ball nestled down like it was sinking into a bed of feathers.
“Well it was terrible drop also,” Romero said. “Terrible. And the ball is plugged again. And then it’s a shot from 30 yards, but the bunker is on the way there and I have to pass it a little bit, making it was very, very difficult shot. I hit a good shot and then just missed for bogey.”
In the midst of watching Romero unravel, Watson made the best of his opportunity and when his birdie putt dropped he delivered an emphatic fist pump.
Watson's countryman Nick Price also entered the final round just two shots off the pace, but couldn’t get any momentum going and shot a one under par 71 that included four birdies and three bogeys. It moved Price to six under par for the Championship and third place on his own.
England's Mark James, at seven over par, was the best placed of the European contingent.