Charles Wins Classic, Tops $4 Million In Earnings The Lefthander Held Off Challenges From Stockton And Trevino For A 1-shot Victory At Chester Valley.

Posted: May 24, 1993

Bob Charles, the steady, humorless cash machine with the dazzling all-round game, became the first $4 million man of the senior golf tour yesterday.

You want colorful antics, quips and one-liners, follow Lee Trevino or Chi Chi Rodriguez all afternoon; you want unwavering, winning golf, Charles is the man. And has been for seven years now on the Senior PGA tour.

He eked out a 1-shot victory in the $650,000 Bell Atlantic Classic yesterday, holding off challenges from playing partners Dave Stockton and Trevino on the back nine of the difficult Chester Valley Golf Club course.

The 57-year-old lefthander from New Zealand posted a birdie and seven pars on the last eight holes to close with a par 70 over the hilly Malvern layout. His 54-hole total of 6-under 204 was good enough for the $97,500 first-prize check that boosted his career winnings to $4,039,195.

It was Charles' 20th career senior tournament victory. He has been the tour's leading money winner twice and has never been out of the top 10 in his previous seven years. In 1993, he has two wins and seven other top-10 finishes in 10 events, good for second on the money list.

Not a lot of people know this, but Charles is not one to talk about

himself, or much else for that matter. His manner of speech is brief and to the point.

"I'm an introvert," he said. "It's as simple as that. I go with the flow or whatever. I try to remain calm on the outside, but inside I'm fighting all the way."

That's a characteristic he is proud of, especially in the face of the new competition that enters the 50-and-over circuit each year.

"I'm delighted that at age 57 my body is still holding out," he said. ''I'm in great shape physically. I don't have any aches or pains; I'm as healthy as I've ever been in my life."

Two of the tour's "younger" bucks - the 53-year-old Trevino and the 51- year-old Stockton - put varying degrees of heat on Charles in the day's final threesome. Trevino, the defending champion, started the round tied with Charles for the lead and Stockton was 1 shot back.

Stockton birdied three of the first five holes to take a 2-shot lead, but became erratic after that, finishing with a 70 that left him in second place at 205. Trevino led by 1 shot with nine holes to play, but bogeyed three of the last six holes to wind up with a 72 to fall into a four-way tie for third.

Mike Hill, the tour's leading money winner, and Bob Murphy each shot 66 and Jim Colbert matched par 70 to join Trevino at 206.

No one made a big move in the final round. Hill and Murphy were the only players in the top 10 at the start of the round to break par, but they were 6 shots out to begin with. The course had something to do with it, as a breeze made club selection difficult and the tiny greens became tough to hold.

So the final group pretty much had to decide things. Although Charles had just two birdies in his round to three for Trevino and four for Stockton, heplayed well enough to survive.

"It was a win for consistency and steadiness," he said. "I can't believe I won the tournament only having holed one (long) putt. . . . Fortunately, my long game stood up and I was able to hit greens and make pars. But I find it hard to believe an even-par round won the tournament."

Stockton drained birdie putts of 4, 14 and 25 feet on the second, third and fifth holes to seize the lead, then relinquished it with bogeys at Nos. 6, 7 and 8. Trevino struggled early, but went on top at the turn with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par-4 ninth that put him 7 under.

Charles bogeyed the par-3 10th to go 2 shots down, but got the shot back with a 3-foot birdie putt at No. 12. He hit every green from then on but the 17th - making an 18-inch putt to save par there - and watched as his partners self-destructed.

Trevino 3-putted the 13th hole, missing a 2-footer for par, and also bogeyed the 14th and 17th after going over the green with his approach shots. Stockton also 3-putted the 13th and didn't hit any of his last four greens, but he 1-putted each for pars with some brilliant scrambling.

Trevino, who expressed doubts he could win, said his putting was shaky but added: "I saw some light. I liked what I saw, but I have a lot of work to do on my chipping and putting."

Stockton said he felt Charles was the man to beat all along. And when Charles beat him, he wasn't a bit surprised.

"Bob Charles never changes," he said. "He just goes his merry way."

NOTES. Jack Nicklaus wrapped up a round of 75 with a double bogey on the 18th hole and ended up tied for 28th at 218. "I played too many bad shots," he said, "but that's all right. Such is life." . . . Jim Ferree won the 36- hole Vantage Classic competition, for players 60 and older, over Billy Casper with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff on Saturday. . . . Malvern's Dick Hendrickson closed with a 70 to finish at 217, the best 54-hole score posted by an area player. Dick Smith of Cherry Hill had a 72-219, Bob Thatcher of West Chester carded a 71-220 and Bob Pfister of West Chester had a 77-233.

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