Zoeller, Gilder miss putts on final hole; 2002 champion avoids
playoff with clutch putt
By NATHAN MIXTER
COYOTE CREEK – The second-annual Siebel Classic in Silicon Valley, held this weekend at Coyote Creek Golf Course in south San Jose, was a fight to the finish as well as a fight against the elements with rainy, windy conditions.
Fuzzy Zoeller, Bob Gilder and Dana Quigley almost finished Sunday’s final round tied with a three-under par – which would have forced a three-man playoff. But after watching Zoeller and Gilder just miss their final putts on the 18th green, Quigley drained his putt to take the title in the Senior PGA tour event.
He celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a light green sweater and a $210,000 purse.
“I absolutely never know if I am going to win,” Quigley said. “For some reason, my game elevates against the better competition. I was more or less playing one hole at a time, just trying to be patient. I didn’t get ahead of myself today which I usually do. I was going to play it conservatively which almost cost me.”
Quigley said that he preferred playing in the rain rather than the wind.
“The weather was a little bit of a nuisance,” Quigley said. “But I told my wife this morning that I thought these conditions were good for me.”
Zoeller was able to get closer to Quigley on the 17th hole with a four iron and then two-putted for the birdie.
“The 17th hole is difficult because you don’t have anything to aim at,” Zoeller said.
Zoeller, who is one of the fan favorites on the tour, had a chance to take the lead on the 18th hole, but his putt just lipped out of the hole. The 18th hole can be one of most challenging holes on the course because of the water hazards that border it on the right.
“It wouldn’t have disappointed me if Fuzzy had won,” Quigley said. “He was one of my heroes.”
“I thought I had the putt on 18,” Zoeller said. “It was nice to be in the hunt again. I know when I get in this position again that I will be OK. I knew the whole time that someone in our group would be in the hunt to win the tournament. I just wanted to score close to the other guys.”
Zoeller said he didn’t mind the rain much even though he had sand in his shoes when he was done.
“Today (Sunday) wasn’t that bad,” Zoeller said. “The wind was blowing differently today. Some holes played longer. But overall the course held up pretty well.”
Along with Zoeller, Gilder also birdied hole 17. He pushed his final putt on hole 18 just wide to the top of the hole.
“It was amazing. I started off with four straight birdies on Friday,” said Gilder, who was five under early Sunday morning. “But my driver kind of let me down this week. The putt at 17 made a difference. I was struggling with my driver at that point.”
“All in all, I can’t complain though,” Gilder added. “Second place is better than anything else if you can’t win. These greens are a little hard to see sometimes. They can be hard to read. This is a very tough course.”
Gilder said he didn’t mind the weather because that never stopped him when he was growing up playing golf in junior high and high school in Oregon.
Gilder and Zoeller walked away with a check for $112,000 for theirwork.
Tom Wargo, who finished fifth, was also in contention for the title.
George Archer, a former 23-year Gilroy resident, finished with a two-under par with a 72 that placed him tied for second with three others behind Jay Sigel in Saturday’s second round standings.
But Archer, who had a solid driving game, was one of the many golfers who had trouble with the short game in the steady cold Sunday rain.
Archer finished the tournament tied with three others for the 22nd spot with a plus five.
The worst wind Archer said he has seen was in the AT&T when the event had to be canceled.
Out of the 78 players that started the tournament, 77 finished. No cuts were made.
Quigley, who has won at least one event in five of his six years on the senior tour, earned 210 Charles Schwab Cup points and moved into the third spot on the tour behind Irwin and Tom Kite with 564 points.
This year he has earned $599,910 and placed in the top ten six of his eight times.
Irwin, last year’s Siebel champion, didn’t have much success in the 40-mile-per-hour wind gusts on Friday. Irwin, who said he didn’t golf good when he couldn’t feel his hands, turned in a course low of 67 on Saturday to finish fifth at four strokes behind the leader.
The wind and the rain made for poor playing and watching conditions at Coyote Creek. But the ball did stick better with the wet course. Some players hoped for the possibility of moving the tournament to the fall when the weather is warmer. But most spectators, although cold, were enthusiastic. All holes were played on the clubhouse side of the freeway.
The event on Sunday started on the 1st and 10th holes to try to get out of the weather sooner. Although it rained during the whole tournament on Sunday, there was no standing water on the field. The event can be called after the majority has been played if there is lighting or standing water.