WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Mark McNulty didn’t feel any pressure about the 30-foot putt he was staring down on the fourth hole of a playoff Sunday. After all, nobody expects to make those anyway.
Well, McNulty nailed it.
McNulty won the Principal Charity Classic for his seventh Champions Tour victory, beating Fred Funk with a left-to-right birdie putt to end a thrilling playoff.
The 55-year-old McNulty closed with a 5-under 66 to match Funk (66) and second-round leader Nick Price (68) at 10-under 203 on the Glen Oaks Country Club course. McNulty and Funk birdied the second extra hole to eliminate Price.
McNulty, from Zimbabwe, saved par on the third playoff hole — on the par-4 17th — after hitting to the fringe of the green, and Funk’s birdie putt lipped out.
Funk tossed his putter in disbelief — and McNulty wouldn’t let Funk get another chance to beat him.
Funk couldn’t convert a tough birdie try on the par-4 18th, and McNulty’s putt gave him his first win since the 2007 JELD-WEN Tradition. McNulty also is the first international winner in the nine-year event.
“Fred had already putted. I knew the line, I had the pace,” McNulty said. “It’s not like I had a six-footer. There’s more pressure on a six-foot putt.”
McNulty rallied from two strokes down in regulation with birdies on 16 and 17. Price joined Funk and McNulty in the playoff with a birdie on 18. All three players birdied the 18th to open the playoff, and 18 also was used for the second extra hole.
It was the Champions Tour’s longest playoff since Bernhard Langer beat Jay Haas in seven holes in the 2008 Toshiba Classic. Mark Wiebe (69) finished fourth at 8 under, and David Eger (68) was fifth at 7 under. John Cook (64) topped a six-player group at 6 under.
“All day, it was sort of catching up, behind, catching up, behind, and (Funk) was sort of always one step ahead,” McNulty said. “He’s got to maintain that one step, and I’ve got to catch up that one step, so I’m fortunate enough that I managed to it.”