KETTERING, Ohio (AP) – No one was even talking about Allen Doyle having a chance to win the U.S. Senior Open. That was precisely the way he wanted it.

Doyle shattered the U.S. Senior Open final-round record Sunday, closing with an 8-under 63 to win his third Champions Tour major while others tossed away their chances.

“No one said a word to me, no one thought I had a chance,” Doyle said. “That’s the way it’s been for me from Day 1. It doesn’t bother me one bit. … It happens. You just have to put a low score up and make it happen.”

Doyle had a bogey-free round that included eight birdies, and he managed to avoid the trouble that knocked third-round co-leaders Craig Stadler and Loren Roberts, as well as D.A. Weibring and others out of contention. His final-round 63, which beat the course record by a stroke, was the lowest by a Senior Open winner.

Doyle beat the previous final-round score by four shots and finished at 10-under 274, one shot ahead of Roberts and Weibring. The victory, worth $470,000, was his 10th on the Champions Tour.

He might have been the only person who wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

He played golf with his oldest daughter Erin last week and she asked if he thought he could win another major championship.

“I think I can win a major even easier than a regular event, because par is more important,” Doyle told her.

Stadler led by three shots with 10 holes to play, but imploded and finished four shots behind Doyle. Roberts was in control until making a double-bogey at No. 11. Weibring was on top by a shot with two holes left, but bogeyed both.

Greg Norman and Tom Watson, among others, had prime opportunities to steal the championship, but failed to make putts on the undulating and increasingly slick greens at NCR Country Club.

Doyle, who turned 57 on Tuesday, has a swing that looks as if he’s using sawed-off clubs, and a form that he honed as a child while swinging in a room with low ceilings.

He was an afterthought as the final round began, teeing off 70 minutes before the last group. Then, he had birdies at Nos. 1, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 to turn in 30 – matching the tournament record. The only long birdie putt he had was a 20-footer at No. 8.

Doyle then birdied the 10th and 14th holes – both on 15-footers – and mustered some gutty pars down the stretch, well aware of the troubles confronting the leaders. His day’s work done, he sat back to watch the adventures of the rest of the contenders before moving on to the range to hit balls and prepare for a playoff.

Stadler birdied three holes early and held a three-shot lead as he played the par-4 9th. But he hit his drive into the face of a fairway bunker, hacked the ball out 40 yards, hit it onto the green and then three-putted for a double-bogey. He subsequently had four more bogeys and another double to fade to a 76. He played the final 10 holes in 7 over.

“Everything I did was wrong,” Stadler said.

When Stadler faltered, his playing partner, Roberts, took over the lead. While Stadler was posting his 6 at No. 9, Roberts rolled in a 28-foot putt for birdie to tie Stadler. Roberts then birdied the next hole to take the lead.

On the par-4 11th, just 380 yards in length, Roberts hit his drive into the middle of the fairway – and then fell apart. His approach landed in a bunker fronting the green. His first attempt to blast out advanced the ball 2 feet. Angry at himself, he barely looked at the next sand shot and whacked the ball 30 feet past the pin. Two putts later, he had a double-bogey and fell back. He closed with a 73 and tied for second with Weibring at 275.

“The 11th hole was my whole tournament,” Roberts said.

Weibring took over the lead with a 3-foot birdie putt at No. 10, and then parred the next six holes to maintain his one-shot advantage.

At the 17th, he hit his second shot into the deep rough over a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down, falling into a tie with Doyle.

On the 18th hole, Weibring hit his second shot went through the green. His chip rolled 10 feet past and he barely missed his par putt.

“You can always look back that I bogeyed the last two holes, but I’ll remember that I played better every day, got in position to win and that things just didn’t work out,” Weibring said.

Norman shot a 69 and was at 276, but didn’t have a birdie on the back nine.

“I just couldn’t get the job done the last five or six holes,” he said.

Watson, who shared fifth place at 277 with Wayne Levi (68), also had difficulty mastering the dramatic dips and rises in the greens. Watson, coming off a win at the Senior British Open, shot a final-round 71, never really threatening the multitude of leaders.

A happy Doyle summed it up: “I fooled em again.”

AP-ES-07-31-05 1935EDT


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