A fit of anger last Monday may have paved the way for Jay Don Blake's first PGA Tour victory yesterday in the Shearson Lehman Brothers Open in San Diego.
Blake, 32, threw his old putter -- one he'd used since his high school days -- into a pond at Palm Springs, Calif., while playing with some friends.
"I don't know what came over me," he said. "That's very much out of character for me. I'd just got tired of missing all those short birdie putts, reaching the par-5s in two then three-putting. I was playing with some friends, and we had a few dollars going, and I wasn't making anything. Finally I missed a short putt on the 17th hole. I just turned around and threw the putter about 30 yards into the middle of a pond."
With that blade putter gone, he went to a backup Blue Goose putter he'd been carrying around when he crossed the mountains to the California coast for this event.
He made two critical birdie putts down the stretch and pulled away to a two-shot victory, the first in five seasons on the PGA Tour for the 1980 national collegiate champion.
"I always thought I had the game to win out here. I just hadn't done it," he said. "If I'd still had that old putter, I might have kept on missing putts and messing up and not won today."
Blake won $180,000 -- and entry to such exclusive events as the Masters, Tournament of Champions and World Series of Golf -- with a 5-under-par 67 in the final round at Torrey Pines for a 268 total, 20 under par.
He separated himself from a bunched field with a downhill, 18-foot birdie putt from off the back of the 15th green and another from about the same length on 17.
Bill Sander, a former national amateur champion yet to win in a 14-year PGA Tour career, birdied the final hole for a 66 and the largest check of his life, $108,000, with a solo second at 270.
Dan Forsman and Ben Crenshaw placed third and fourth. Forsman, the defending champion, shot 68 -- 271. Crenshaw, who damaged his chances with consecutive bogeys early in the day, was 69 -- 272.
Steve Pate, the third-round leader and 1988 San Diego winner, and Brad Faxon were fencing for the lead early in the day, but each hit his second shot into a canyon and unplayable on the seventh hole. Faxon made double-bogey 6 and Pate took a 7. Neither was a factor again. Each shot 74, for 273 and 274, respectively.
Corey Pavin, second and first the past two weeks, played with Faxon and Pate in the final threesome and faded to 75 -- 275.
Senior PGA: Lee Trevino sank a 12-foot putt on the 18th hole for his sixth birdie of the day and beat Dale Douglass by one shot for $67,500 first prize in the Aetna Challenge at the Vineyards in Naples, Fla.
Defending champion Trevino shot a bogey-free 66 to overtake Douglass, the 18- and 36-hole leader, who posted 68, also without a bogey. Trevino finished at 205 for his first victory this season to go with seven last year as a rookie on the 50-and-older tour.
Australian Masters: Six-time champion Greg Norman bogeyed the last two holes and Peter Senior beat him by a stroke at Melbourne's Huntingdale course. Senior shot 3-under-par 70 for a 72-hole 278; Norman took 71 for 279.
Tied with Senior going to 18, Norman hooked his tee shot sharply left, onto a practice fairway. He had to hit a blind second shot over a group of hospitality boxes; the ball hit one of the boxes behind the green and caromed into a bunker. He blasted out to nine feet. His putt for par spun around the cup and stayed out.
Senior made a routine par and remarked: "I kept on nagging at him all day. Probably one of my attributes is that I very rarely give it away."