Kevin Sutherland’s final two holes at the 3M Championship were representative of his four seasons playing the PGA Tour Champions. He was very good, but not quite good enough.
After sinking a birdie putt from about 45 feet out on the par-3 17th hole at TPC Twin Cities on Sunday, he faced another putt of similar length to finish his final round. The crowd’s cheers grew louder as the ball drew close to the hole. But it just missed. Sutherland didn’t convert his chance to reach 19 under par for the tournament and tie for what was then the lead.
“It looked like it had a chance,” Sutherland said of the long putt at the 18th hole. “Pretty unbelievable.”
Sutherland finished tied for third at 18 under par. Since 2014, the 53-year-old from Sacramento, Calif., has earned about $4 million on the Champions tour, and he has finished in the top 10 in 33 of the 69 events he has played. He has placed in the top three 11 times. He finished tied for third at the 3M for the second year in a row after tying for second in 2015.
But he has not won an event on the tour. He only won once on the PGA Tour, the 2002 Match Play Championship at La Costa in Carlsbad, Calif.
“I’ve been really close a lot of times,” Sutherland said. “It’ll happen eventually.”
This was his first tournament since July 16, and he said that’s why he bogeyed twice in the first five holes in Friday’s first round. After that, though, he made bogey only once more that day — and he didn’t at all in his final two rounds.
He was tied for 15th at 10 under entering the final round. Sunday, he eagled a par-5 third hole, finishing at 8 under for the round.
Sutherland’s round ended about 20 minutes after a 62-minute rain delay. When he left the course, only 12 people stood waiting for his autograph or picture.
The golfer asked an elementary school-aged boy if he wanted his autograph. The boy said yes.
He tries to ignore the obvious frustration that could come with never quite performing well enough to win. He is playing good golf, after all. And although he didn’t mention it, he is earning millions.
His final score this weekend, 198, was one stroke better than his score a year ago. But after yet again only coming close to winning, Sutherland wouldn’t say whether his performance was a good sign for how he would perform at the next 3M Championship.
Maybe, Sutherland said, his competitors’ scores would be better next year, too.
“Just keep putting yourself in that position,” he said. “Eventually, something might go your way at the end.”