Coceres closes strong for second win of year

Monday, October 22, 2001

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A downpour on the final hole only delayed the inevitable Sunday. Jose Coceres wasn't going to let Davis Love III or even some nasty weather spoil his first trip to Disney World and a special treat for his mother.

The 38-year-old from Argentina pulled away from the pack with three straight birdies at the turn and never gave Love or anyone else much of a chance the rest of the way, closing with a 4-under 68 to win the National Car Rental Classic.

It was the second victory of the year for Coceres, a former caddie who learned to play golf by using branches and rocks in his tiny village outside Chaco.

He finished at 263 for a one-stroke victory over Love, who had a 66 but was haunted by blown opportunities on the back-nine par 5s.

Jerry Smith had a 63 and tied for third, giving him more than enough money to secure his card for next year.

The first international player to win at Disney, Coceres earned $612,000 and became the ninth multiple-winner on the PGA Tour his year, both victories after a delay. In April, he had to return Monday morning to win a playoff at Hilton Head over Billy Mayfair.

With a two-stroke lead and his drive safely in the 18th fairway, a blinding rain covered the 18th green with an inch of water and suspended play for 49 minutes.

Coceres had to endure a few anxious moments when he returned to the Magnolia course. He hit his approach into about 30 feet and lagged his first putt 6 feet below the hole. Love holed a 12-foot birdie putt, but Coceres made his par and punched the damp air with his fist.

"It was exciting for just a minute," Love said.

As he did after winning at Hilton Head, Coceres displayed a pillow case with a message written in Spanish, this one saying: "Happy Mother's Day for all the mothers." Sunday is Mother's Day in Argentina.

"This was the best gift I could have given her," he said.

For Love, it was the second time this year he played in the final group and posted a 66, only to finish second. He was beaten by Scott Hoch's 64 in the Western Open.

Tiger Woods birdied three of his last six holes for a 69 and tied for 16th at 272.

SBC Championship

SAN ANTONIO -- Larry Nelson capped a record-tying 63 with a tap-in birdie on the final hole and beat Bob Gilder and Gary McCord by two strokes to win the SBC Championship.

Nelson's 9-under round gave him a 17-under total and his fifth Senior PGA Tour victory of the year and 11th over the last two seasons. He earned $210,000.

Gilder shot a final-round 66, while McCord, who started the third round in a tie for the lead with Bob Murphy, had a 67.

-- From wire reports

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