CARY, N.C. – Kirk Triplett captured the 2014 SAS Championship title by three strokes, carding a 3-under par 69 during the final round of play at Prestonwood Country Club on Sunday.
After matching the lowest second-round score in tournament history (63) on Saturday, Triplett played a steady final round and managed to earn the win at 14-under par (202) overall, while keeping his distance from playing partner Tom Lehman (-11, 205), 2012 winner Bernhard Langer and 2011 winner Kenny Perry, who both finished at 10-under par (206).
The three-stroke victory was the largest at the tournament since Eduardo Romero won in 2008 at 15-under par over second place finisher Tom Kite.
Making his third appearance at the SAS, Triplett finished third last year after trailing eventual champion Russ Cochran by two strokes.
Instead of being the hunter, Triplett was the hunted throughout the day, and successfully held onto sole possession of a Saturday lead for the first time while playing on the Champions Tour.
He focused on getting his ball in the right position for the next shot throughout the day, particularly on the greens.
Though he shot three bogeys throughout his round, on holes 4, 7, and 10, he bounced back with birdies following each.
He continued to use the strategy to earn his fourth career Tour win and second of the season, having captured the ACE Group Classic in Naples, Fla., earlier this year, beating Langer, Olin Brown, and Duffy Waldof by a stroke.
“I think when you’re the guy chasing, you’re looking at the pin,” Triplett said.
“When you’re the guy leading, you’re looking at the section of the green. On 15, that green’s in three big sections, and I’m trying to get my ball in that back section. I didn’t really see the pin, but I’m shooting for the center of that section. The guys that are chasing me are shooting right at the pin. I think that’s the biggest difference.”
The win earned him a $315,000 winner’s check and 315 Charles Schwab Cup points, moving him up from ninth to sixth place in the current Cup standings.
With Triplett raising the crystal trophy, current Cup points leader Langer padded his already comfortable lead to a total 771 points over second-place Colin Montgomerie with his third-place finish.
“We’re not there yet,” Langer said.
“We have three more tournaments. I’m not playing next week – Colin is – so he’s got a great opportunity to make up ground. I did everything I could this week to stay in front of him, and I didn’t just stay in front of him. I’ll probably get, I don’t know somewhere close to 140 points that could be very helpful at the end.”