DES MOINES, Iowa — Jerry Kelly birdied the first hole of a playoff with Kirk Triplett on Sunday to win the PGA Tour Champions’ Principal Charity Classic.
Kelly hit his approach to 4 feet on the par-4 18th to set up the winning putt. The 55-year-old from Wisconsin has nine victories on the 50-and-over tour after winning three times on the PGA Tour.
He broke out of a putting slump with help from Steve Stricker, his Madison, Wisconsin, friend and neighbor who tied for eighth.
“It felt good all week. I just had to keep my patience in there. That was what sent me through, besides obviously Steve’s putting lesson again. But really is the patience. Because of that, because I was able to make some putts, that really carried me through.”
Kelly and Triplett each shot 5-under 67 to finish at 18-under 198 at Wakonda Club, 2 strokes ahead of Steven Alker and Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer.
Kelly returned from a lightning delay to play the final three holes of regulation, making a birdie on the par-3 17th. Triplett birdied the par-4 16th and closed with two pars.
“Just a good old-fashioned afternoon Midwest thunder boomer pop-up,” Kelly said about the storm. “It didn’t last long, luckily. Didn’t even think we were going to need to hit balls, but I’m glad I did because I found out just how old I am on that first drive in the playoff.”
The 60-year-old Triplett won the most recent of his eight senior titles in 2019.
Alker followed his second-round 64 with a 69. The Senior PGA Championship winner last week in Michigan, the 50-year-old from New Zealand has four victories in his past 13 events.
The 64-year-old Langer had four back-nine birdies in a 68.
Brett Quigley was fifth at 15 under after a 70.
Paul Goydos (65) and Brandt Jobe (67) were 14 under, and Stricker (67) and Kevin Sutherland (67) were 13 under.
Stricker returned after having to withdraw from the Senior PGA because of a positive COVID-19 test result. He won the major in Alabama in his previous start.
Stricker will host the American Family Insurance Championship next week in Madison. Kelly is the two-time defending champion.