Watson edges Couples in Hawaii

Tom Watson birdied the final two holes to edge out Fred Couples in Sunday’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Tom Watson birdied the final two holes to hold off Challenge Tour rookie Fred Couples and win Sunday’s season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii by just one shot.

Watson, 60, a multi-major winner who was coming off a victory with Jack Nicklaus in the Champions Skins at Kaanapali last week, closed with a 7-under 65 for a 22-under 194 total that earned him his 13th Champions Tour title.

Watson finished his first-ever win in Hawaii in spectacular fashion.

The final hole started badly enough for him.

Tied with Couples, playing in his first seniors tournament on a sponsors invitation due to the fact that the event was otherwise restricted only to last year’s Tour winners, Watson hit his drive into some nasty rough right.

Things didn’t look good for him, but somehow he managed to conjure up a magical second shot that rolled for some 20 feet on the final green before stopping just 5 feet from the pin

Couples, who went one better than Watson in their final round duel, the 50-year-old ‘youngster’ closing with a bogey-free 64, just missed his 15-foot birdie putt to force a play-off on the 18th and then had to watch Watson cooly drain a relatively easy putt that brought a huge roar from a crowd still mindful of how close he had come to winning The Open aged 59 last year.

It also helped that he was now one of them, having purchased a home a year ago here at Hualalai.

Michael Allen also birdied the final hole to card a 66 that gave him third place, his 18 under total being one shot too good for Tom Lehman who closed with a 68.

The 64-year-old Hale Irwin, a two-time winner at Hualalai, was fifth after matching Couples’ 64.