Originally created 09/15/03

Nelson shakes off bee sting for first win of season



HUNT VALLEY, Md. -- A bee sting wasn't about to keep Larry Nelson from his first Champions Tour win in two years.

Nelson overcame a sting on his right hand Sunday to shoot a 2-under-par 70 for a two-stroke victory at the Constellation Energy Classic.

"Had it been my left hand, it would've really been rough," Nelson said. "The right one, you probably don't need anyway."

Nelson's 9-under-par 207 total gave him the 17th Champions Tour victory of his career and first since the SBC Championship in October 2001.

"You never really know when the last event is going to be that you win, and for a long time you think, well, maybe you've already had your last one," said Nelson, a three-time runner-up this season. "I've been pretty close. I just hit a lot of good shots and I guess outlasted everybody."

Doug Tewell closed with a 3-under 69 and finished tied for second with Jim Dent (71) at 7-under 209.

Nelson trailed Tewell by one stroke before getting up and down from a greenside bunker for birdie on the par-5 16th to pull even at 9 under.

Playing one group ahead of Nelson, Tewell bogeyed the 17th to fall one back. Needing birdie on No. 18 to tie, Tewell went after his 15-foot putt aggressively but missed it to the right. He then missed his short par putt to drop into a second-place tie with the 64-year-old Dent.

"I've got a bad taste right now," Tewell said. "I've gotten the best of (Nelson) a lot the last couple of years. I guess it was my turn to give it back today and make it easy for him."

Nelson parred his final two holes on the par-72 Hayfields Country Club layout to take home the $225,000 first-place check.

Dent was trying to become the oldest player ever to win on the Champions Tour. His 65 on Saturday was the low round of the tournament, and he started one shot behind Nelson and Jay Sigel on Sunday. But wayward driving on the front nine kept him out of the lead. Dent hasn't won since 1998, but it was his best finish in three years.

"I haven't been in this position in a long time, but it's good to be in the fight," Dent said. "It gets your blood pumping and you feel like you can play again."

Des Smyth (72), Sam Torrance (68) and Sigel shared fourth at 6 under.

Smyth, seeking his first Champions Tour win, held the lead at 8 under through 10 holes. He fell off the pace after missing short par putts at Nos. 14 and 15.

Sigel opened the round tied for the lead, but never got much going. He made 12 straight pars and finished with a 73.

Torrance, making his Champions Tour debut, rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the last hole to collect $73,500.

Nelson was one stroke behind and lining up a 12-foot par putt on the ninth green when he grabbed his belt to hitch up his pants, not realizing a bee had landed on him. He said the bee stung him on the knuckle near the tip of the index finger on his right hand.

"I actually didn't feel my finger for about three holes. It's still pretty painful," he said shortly after finishing his round.

Nelson, who said he is not allergic to bee stings, took a few minutes to compose himself and try to shake off the pain. Then he sank his par putt before treating the sting with ice and tobacco.

"I've always heard tobacco draws the poison out," he said. "First, I was just ticked. I didn't know what effect it was going to have. It just hurt every time I fixed a ball mark or reached in my pocket, and at impact it didn't feel too good."

But after he hit a good drive on the 10th hole, he realized the sting wouldn't interfere with his swing significantly.

Nelson narrowly missed a birdie putt on 10, but played a 6-iron to within 25 feet at 11 and made that birdie putt to tie for the lead.

Meanwhile, Tewell had birdied the 10th to pull within one of the lead and moved into a three-way tie when he birdied the 13th. He sank a 15-footer at No. 15 to take sole possession of the lead at 9 under, but Nelson caught him with a 15-footer on the 16th.

Nelson, whose only bogeys on Friday and Saturday had come at 17, parred the hole and watched as Tewell failed to birdie 18. When Tewell's par putt also missed, Nelson relaxed.

His finger began to feel better the moment he tapped in for par at 18.

"Winning helps," he said.