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With a closing round of 8-under-par 63, Allen Doyle surged from nine strokes off the lead to capture the 2005 U.S. Senior Open on the South Course at NCR Country Club in Kettering, Ohio.
Doyle's closing round tied the record for lowest 18-hole score in any of the three USGA Open championships, while his nine-stroke comeback established a record for the largest comeback in the final round. He finished at 10-under-par 274 to win by one stroke over D.A. Weibring and Loren Roberts, and by two strokes over Greg Norman. who was making his first appearance in the U.S. Senior Open.
"My thought process was simply to go out and play as good a round as I could play," said Doyle in his post-round interview. "I won the  Senior PGA Championship shooting 64 on Sunday. You just have to put the score up and make it happen."
Indeed, Doyle finished the final round in his steady and unassuming manner more than one hour before the championship leaders. While Doyle waited in the clubhouse and practiced putting, one by one the other contenders tumbled down the leader board.
"You look at the board at any particular tune, and I think I saw [Craig) Stadler at 13 under, so you figure maybe no matter what I do, I don't have a chance," Doyle noted. "But, then you see someone make a mistake, and then you remember past Opens where guys have got in and finished and posted a round, and it gets harder and harder out there."
Doyle's victory was a suitable reward for a man who maintained a long history in USGA championships. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he was a frequent competitor in the U.S. Amateur, advancing to the semifinals in 1992 before losing to the eventual champion, Justin Leonard. Doyle was also a member of the victorious USA Walker Cup team in 1991 and 1993, and in 1994 he led the American team that won the World Amateur Team Championship at Versailles, France.
"I was an integral part of the team," Doyle commented on his experiences in international competition, "and I felt like a USGA champion. I just didn't have the trophy to prove it." But his win at NCR offered full validation for the career of a man who didn't turn professional until the age of 47. "It's a wonderful feeling. It's the organization that pretty much everybody grows up looking to and wanting to play in their events. So to finally be a USGA champion is a wonderful thing."
The championship opened on Thursday under partly cloudy skies with light breezes, ideal scoring conditions on a course that had been softened by rain the night before. Stadler, playing in his third U.S. Senior Open, took full advantage of his scoring opportunities, returning on opening round score of 7-under-par 64 that tied the U.S. Senior Open record for lowest score in the first round. He was one of 30 players who broke par in the first round, tying the record for most sub-par rounds by the field in the first round.
The low scoring trend continued into the second round, as Tom Watson (68-65-133), Roberts (66-67-133), and Stadler (64-69-133) each tied the U.S. Senior Open record for lowest 36-hole score. The cut, which fell at 3-over-par 145, was the lowest cut in U.S. Senior Open history, and once again a record for sub-par rounds was established as 35 players broke par in the second round.
By Saturday, playing conditions had changed dramatically, as several days of fair weather had finally rendered the course firm and fast. Scores throughout the field were higher, and, at the end of the day, Roberts and Stadler shared the lead at 11-under-par 202. "The golf course, in my mind, totally changed from the way it was the first two days," noted Roberts, adding that he sensed the change as soon as he set foot on the green at the first hole. Three strokes behind the leaders sat Weibring and Ray Floyd, who had captured the PGA Championship at NCR in 1969, while four strokes back and poised to attack should the leaders falter were Des Smyth and Watson, who had battled in a playoff for the Senior British Open title just the week before.
On Sunday, however, it was Doyle who made the boldest move up the leader board. He played a bogey-free round, ignited by a 15-foot chip-in for birdie at the first hole. He collected his second birdie of the day at the 3rd hole, then ran off a string of four consecutive birdies from holes five thrugh eight, posting a 30 on the front nine to tie the championship record for lowest nine-hole score. Doyle's hot play continued on the back nine, with birdies from 15 feet at the 10th and 14th. He took just 25 putts in his record-setting round, then waited at the clubhouse.
One by one the championship leaders faltered on the back nine. Third-round co-leader Stadler fell away first. Beginning with a double bogey at the 9th when he held a three-stroke lead over Roberts, Stadler played the final 10 holes in seven over par, leaving many putts short of the hole as he closed with a 5-over-par 76. Norman, trailing by one stroke with eight holes to play, bogeyed the 14th, collected no birdies, and finished two behind Doyle. Then it was Wiebring's turn. Holding a one-shot out of a potential playoff. Finally it fell to Roberts, who arrived at the 72nd hole needing a birdie to tie. When his 25-foot birdie putt ran past, the last of the challengers had fallen away, leaving Doyle standing as the 2005 champion.
Starts - 10
Champion Year -
2005 & 2006
Rds - 36
Cuts Made - 8
Top 3 - 2
Top 5 - 4
Top 10 - 6
Top 25 - 7
Avg. - 71.42
Scores In 60s - 13
Rds Under Par - 17
Earnings - $1,325,767.00