Pernice Closes with 68 to Nail Down 3M Championship

Tom Pernice Jr. birdied the final two holes to secure his second title on the Champions Tour. The 53-year-old posted a 4-under 68 Sunday to end up at 17-under 199 and win the $1.75 million 3M Championship at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minn.

Pernice was locked in a tight battle with Jeff Sluman - who birdied eight holes on the front nine en route to setting a new tournament nine-hole record of 8-under 28 and a 10-under 62 - and Corey Pavin.

But the Missouri native sank an improbable 50-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th, then hit a fine drive and carried the water with a 200-yard approach on the par-5 closer to set up a two-putt birdie and edge Sluman and Pavin, who shot a 66, by a stroke.

Pernice, whose first Champions Tour win came in the 2009 SAS Championship, has been knocking on the door of the winner's circle all year on the over-50 circuit. In 14 previous starts, he accrued six top-10 finishes, including two runners-up and three third-places.

He finally came through on Sunday. "Stay relaxed and stay patient," he explained at greenside regarding his strategy for the week. "Somehow, I made that putt on 17."

Sharing fourth at 202 were Americans Jay Haas (65) and Bart Bryant (67), and Canadian Rod Spittle (68). Another stroke back were Craig Stadler (65), Kenny Perry (67), Kirk Triplett (68) and Scotland's Colin Montgomerie (67).

Finishing at 204 were Australian Peter Senior (66), John Cook (67) and Gene Sauers (68). Fred Funk (66), Rocco Mediate (68), John Riegger (70), Mark Wiebe (70) and Tom Kite shared 14th at 205.

Kite, who began the final round only two strokes behind Pernice, finished with a 72. The diminutive Texan, who was born December 9, 1949, was seeking to supplant Mike Fetchick - who won the 1985 Hilton Head Seniors International on his 63rd birthday - as the oldest winner in Champions Tour history.

Minnesota native Tom Lehman shot a 70 to end up tied for 29th at 8-under 208.

Defending 3M champion Bernhard Langer was not entered this week. After losing on the fifth sudden-death playoff hole to Wiebe at Royal Birkdale in England, the World Golf Hall of Fame member headed to his home country of Germany for a family reunion.

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