Fuzzy Zoeller passed 10 players with a final-round 64 at Kingsmill today to win the $500,000 Anheuser-Busch Golf Classic by two strokes over Jodie Mudd.
The victory, accomplished in large part with a glorious 205-yard four-iron shot from the woods to save par on the 16th hole, delighted the huge, vocal gallery following Zoeller, who is the tour professional for Ford's Colony Golf Club six miles away, although he lives in Indiana.
Zoeller, whose sense of humor was as deft as his touch around the greens today, said he wasn't bothered by the crowd because he was concentrating well. "Maybe the reason they were following me is because they thought I would buy the beer later," he said. "And there's a good shot that I will."
His round enabled him to finish at 10-under 274 and lifted him past the only player listed after him alphabetically on the PGA tour, Richard Zokol, who shot a 67 Saturday and had the lead by two strokes going into the final round. Today, he faded with a 79 that dropped him to even par for the tournament.
The victory was Zoeller's third of the season, tying him with Bob Tway for most victories this year. Zoeller earned $90,000, pushing his total earnings this year to $332,883 and establishing him as one of the favorites for the British Open that starts Thursday.
"Fuzzy just ran away," said Joey Sindelar, who was alone in third place at 7 under par and played in Zoeller's threesome. "We had a good time today, but I had a little less better good time than he did."
Zoeller birdied three of the first five holes and turned at 6 under par for the tournament. At that point, Mudd was 8 under and in sole possession of first place, but Zoeller knocked a pitching wedge within three feet at No. 11 to set up one birdie, then rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at No. 12 to gain a tie for the lead with Mudd at 8 under.
Zoeller then birdied No. 14 by pitching to three feet again, and reached the green in two at the par-5 15th and two-putted for his seventh birdie.
Mudd, playing in the last group, four holes behind Zoeller, said he looked at the scoreboard while he was on the 11th fairway. "I saw Fuzzy was 10 under, and I knew I had to make some birdies," he said.
Instead, Mudd played the next seven holes even, bogeying No. 13 and birdieing No. 16 to finish with a 69-276, winning $54,000 but failing in his quest for a tournament win. "I really played well," he said. "I gave it all I could, but just came up short."
It would have been a different story if Zoeller had not come up with a gambling shot on the 16th hole that preserved his lead.
After a "very miserable" tee shot that went deep into the trees, he hit a 4-iron 205 yards between the pines to within 25 feet of the hole, where he two-putted for par. "If you want to win the golf tournament, you've got to take chances like that," he said. "You can't play chicken."
Zoeller parred the last two holes, as well, with his irons biting well on Kingsmill's greens, which had been criticized for their crustiness yesterday. "The greens looked like Col. Sanders' chicken frying in front of you yesterday, but today they were noticeably improved," he said.
Scott Hoch and Mac O'Grady tied for fourth place at 6-under 278. O'Grady shot a 67 with a new caddie after the one he used yesterday quit on the 17th tee. Four more players were tied for sixth at 279 -- Rick Fehr, David Frost, T.C. Chen and Clarence Rose.
But the day belonged to the Zoeller, 34, who has been plagued by back problems but said he felt fine all week in the 90-plus temperatures. "It was just a lot of fun," he said.