It wasn’t the weekend Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley would’ve had in mind, then again, Alex Cejka wouldn’t have imagined in his wildest dreams that he’d be walking away with a second straight Senior Major title on Sunday.
But that’s what happened at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship where, as the likes of Clarke and McGinley struggled over a gruelling weekend examination at Southern Hills, Germany’s Cejka fired rounds of 68 and 67 for an impressive four-stroke win at eight-under par.
“It’s incredible,” Cejka said, who beat Steve Stricker in a playoff in the Regions Tradition earlier this month.
“Seeing and knowing all those names who are up there on the trophy and being on the trophy myself, it’s a dream come true. … Monday when I played for the first time here I walked those fairways and remember seeing this on TV in all those years and I can’t even describe how it feels to be here and touching the trophy. I’m just super blessed. I’m super happy. It’s an incredible feeling right now. “
US Ryder Cup team Captain Stricker again looked set to be the man to beat and took a one-shot lead into the final round but for once, one of the most reliable putters on tour was let down by his flat-stick, Stricker missing seven putts inside of 8 feet before a final round 77 saw his title challenge fade.
“I was actually almost in shock, which threw my game off totally,” Cejka said. “I was expecting him to come out and just put so much pressure on, as great a player as he normally is. But it’s golf.”
Cejka won three times on the European Tour in 1995 and a fourth event in 2002 before moving to the U.S. He played the PGA TOUR from 2002 to 2011 before losing his status, but regained it in 2015, a year he won the Puerto Rico Open for his lone PGA TOUR victory.
He joined the PGA TOUR Champions without enough career money winnings for full status, and was an alternate into the Tradition. Victory there earned Cejka $375,000 while this latest win is even more significant with the German banking $585,000 in another special performance.
Meanwhile, successive weekend scores of 74 saw Northern Ireland’s Clarke fall down the leaderboard over the weekend and into a tie for 54th at 11-over. Dubliner McGinley also struggled over the weekend with rounds of 77 and 75 leaving him in 74th at 19-over.