Originally created 02/27/06

Pate takes a dive after winning Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am



LUTZ, Fla. - Jerry Pate jumped in the lake again, signaling another victory at long last.

Pate's birdie putt on the final hole gave him a one-shot win in the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am on Sunday, his first pro victory in 24 years. Pate shot a 5-under 66 for the day to finish at 11-under 202 for the tournament.

The last time Pate won - playing with an orange ball at the Tournament Players Championship in 1982 - he jumped in a lake just off the 18th green at Sawgrass. He waited a long time to do it again, going through five operations on his left shoulder and a stint as a broadcaster before qualifying for the Champions Tour.

Pate said he wants to make a habit out of his victory dives.

"It brings something fun to the Tour," Pate said after drying off. "I just want to have fun and it's been a long time, so I said, 'Why not?'"

Pate broke a four-way tie with his 10-foot putt on the final hole, leaving Hale Irwin (68), Mark James (68) and Morris Hatalsky (64) a shot back.

Loren Roberts came within three shots of winning his fourth straight Champions Tour event, taking himself out of contention with a bogey on the 16th hole. Roberts shot a 69 and finished in a five-way tie for fifth place.

"I made a run at it, but I just didn't quite have it," Roberts said. "I was on a nice roll, but all good things come to an end."

Pate, who in 1982 pushed then PGA Tour commissioner Deane Beman and course architect Pete Dye into the water before joining them, was on his own this time.

Hatalsky had the day's low round with a 64, and had a chance to tie Irwin and James for the lead until he missed a 6-foot putt on No. 18.

Irwin and James both bogeyed No. 16 to make it a three-way tie before Pate went on a roll with two birdies in the last five holes.

After Pate took the lead, Irwin had a chance to force sudden death, but he drove the ball into the rough on the 18th. He hit his approach shot within 50 feet, but missed his putt by 6 inches to give Pate the win.

Irwin struggled with his driver all week, but was able to stay close until the putts stopped falling down the stretch.

"I had my chances," Irwin said. "I didn't have my putts on the last few holes and I am disappointed. I knew I needed to play strong today and didn't play well."