Madison (Wisconsin) native Jerry Kelly defeated fellow Wisconsinite Steve Stricker and Hall of Famer Retief Goosen in a three-hole playoff to secure his fourth career Champions Tour victory at the American Family Insurance Championship.
Starting the day tied fifth, and two shots back of 36-hole leader Steve Flesch, Kelly birdied Nos. 2, 4, 7 and 9 to turn in 32, and secure a share of the lead for the first time all weekend. Three more birdies on Nos. 13, 14, and 16 gave the former college hockey player (Hartford) the outright lead, but a three-putt bogey on the 18th dropped him back into a tie for first alongside Stricker and Goosen.
Stricker, the tournament host, was eliminated on the first playoff hole after making bogey against pars for Kelly and Goosen. Following matching pars on the second overtime hole, Kelly ended it with a six-foot birdie putt on the third extra hole (No. 15).
After winning three times in his first nine starts it took Kelly 24 more starts to earn No. 4, and he was thrilled.
“I haven’t won since my dad passed, so this was the first one and I was talking to him all the time,” said an emotional Kelly.
“There were a lot of birdies coming up and chirping right next to me and I was like, “Hey, hey, Dad, how are you?” It was kind of surreal.
“But really, yeah, when I was talking about my son and giving the props to my wife like I need to, those are the two times that I really started getting a little choked up, but I’m just excited.”
The win earned Kelly a first-place prize of $300,000, which moved him up to second-place on the senior circuit’s points list.
Duffy Waldorf shot 66 to claim solo fourth-place at 14-under, one shot clear of Kevin Sutherland (63) and John Daly (66), who were T5 on 13-under par.
Leaderboard: Final Top 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Jerry Kelly -15 (-6)
2. Steve Stricker -15 (-5)
2. Retief Goosen -15 (-6)
4. Duffy Waldorf -14 (-4)
5. Kevin Sutherland -13 (-9)
5. John Daly -13 (-6)
“I was telling Cookie, John Cook, as he was doing the interview out there, the first (PGA TOUR) win at Sony was battling him down the stretch and this is — I mean, to battle Strick down the stretch and to have a playoff and to be in Madison, I mean, they’re neck and neck. I probably wouldn’t be here without the Sony win, but there’s no words for this one. It’s right there, if not better.”
– Jerry Kelly