PITTSBURGH — Flanked by major champions and pursued by big names, Joe Daley stuck to his game.
Twenty years after quitting his job as a credit salesman to turn pro, Daley wasn’t going to back down.
Not with his first victory on the PGA or Champions tours within reach. Not even with Fred Couples, Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman among those looming.
Daley won the Senior Players Championship on Sunday for his first Champions Tour title, closing with 2-under 68 for a 14-under 266 total and a two-stroke victory over Lehman at Fox Chapel.
Daley outdueled final-round playing partners Calcavecchia – the winner the previous week in the Montreal Championships – and Couples, the defending champion. Daley entered the day tied with Calcavecchia and a shot ahead of Couples and Lehman, who won the previous major last month.
“I was my competition – not them,” Daley said. I’m my own competition. Have been for years.”
The victory earned Daley full Champions Tour status for a calendar year.
Before this weekend, Daley was perhaps best known for missing out on a PGA Tour card in 2000 when a short putt popped out of the hole during Q-School.
Daley earned $405,000, more than double the $155,537 he made in 59 PGA Tour starts spread out over six seasons between 1994-2007. He had a tour card only in 1996 and ‘98, with only one top-10 finish – a tie for sixth in the 1996 B.C. Open.
Daley was a two-time winner on the Web.com Tour but had only one top-10 finish in 10 previous Champions Tour starts.
LPGA TOUR: In Rogers, Ark., Ai Miyazato shot 6-under 65 to overcome a five-shot deficit and win the NW Arkansas Championship for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year.
The Japanese star made a 5-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to reach 12 under for the tournament, and her ninth career LPGA Tour victory was secured when Mika Miyazato missed a 15-foot birdie attempt on No. 18. Ai Miyazato had seven birdies and one bogey in the final round to finish a stroke ahead of Mika Miyazato and Azahara Munoz.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Portrush, Northern Ireland, Jamie Donaldson of Wales won his first European Tour title by shooting 6-under 66 to clinch a four-stroke victory at the Irish Open on Sunday.
Beginning the fourth round with a one-shot lead, Donaldson birdied five of his last seven holes to shoot a fourth consecutive round in the 60s to total 18-under 270 and end an 11-year trophy drought that covered 255 tournaments.
Second-ranked Rory McIlroy, playing at his home tournament, finished strong with 67 to tie for 10th.
WEB.COM TOUR: Peter Tomasulo won the United Leasing Championship for his third Web.com Tour victory, beating David Lingmerth with a par on the fourth hole of a playoff.
The 30-year-old Tomasulo bogeyed the final hole of regulation for a 2-under 70, leaving him tied with Lingmerth at 11-under 277 at the Victoria National Golf Club. Lingmerth finished with 68.
Tomasulo earned $99,000 and jumped from 200th to No. 21st on the money list. The final top 25 will earn 2013 PGA Tour cards.
Augusta’s Scott Parel had 72 and tied for 11th.