Loren falls at The Tradition

Eduardo Romero knocked in a 2-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole against Lonnie Nielsen on Sunday to win The Tradition, the final major this season on the Champions Tour.

Romero almost eagled the sudden-death playoff hole, leaving his 19-foot putt just short on No. 18. Nielsen bogeyed it.

Romero was in the clubhouse at 13 under, after closing with a 15-foot birdie putt, when Nielsen also birdied the par-5 18th to force the playoff.

Romero, an Argentine, crept up the leaderboard with an eagle and three birdies on the front nine. His eagle on No. 4 bounced on the green from 71 yards out and rolled in the cup.

He finished with a 65, the low round of the tournament, for a 13-under 275 total. Nielsen had a final round of 70 on the par-72, 7,150-yard course at the Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club west of Portland.

Romero has played in just three other tour events this year, but was the runner-up after a playoff with Loren Roberts at the Senior British Open. It was only his eighth start on the tour.

He became the second international player to win The Tradition.

Australian Graham Marsh won it in 1999, when it was played in Arizona. With his victory, Romero becomes exempt for next season on the tour for players 50 and older.

"It is my first victory on the Champions Tour and I am very, very, very happy," he said.

Nielsen's body language showed his disappointment after his tee shot to open the playoff went into a bunker, and the second shot caromed right into bark chips off the fairway.

"I couldn't get anything on it," Nielsen said. "It would have taken everything I had just to get it 100 yards."

Known as "El Gato," Romero raised his arms in victory after his winning birdie putt and then patted Nielsen on the back.

"He's got it all and he's got no fear," Nielsen said of his playoff opponent. "He shoots at every pin, he doesn't care if there's water next to it."

After his round, Romero chatted on the phone with Argentine President Nestor Kirchner.

The shot of the sunny day was by Bruce Summerhays, who had a hole-in-one on the par-3 No. 11. He hit a 5-iron from 185 yards for his first career hole-in-one.

Nielsen and Bobby Wadkins shared a one-stroke lead going into Sunday's final round. Wadkins had a 71 to finish a shot off the lead at 12 under. Four others finished at 9 under.

Nielsen still never has won on either the Champions or PGA tour.

"I take a lot of positives from this," Nielsen said.  "Finishing runner-up in a major is pretty - it's my biggest paycheck yet."

Roberts, the defending champion, fell apart on the final day with a 76 to finish at 6 under.