Lehman wins Tucson Conquistadores Classic
Holds off Stricker who finishes second in PGA TOUR Champions debut
March 19, 2017
By The Associated Press
- Tom Lehman's previous win on PGA TOUR Champions came at the 2015 SAS Championship. (J. Martin Harris Photography/Tucson, Arizona)
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Tom Lehman took advantage of rookie Steve Stricker's late mistakes Sunday to win the Tucson Conquistadores Classic for his 10th PGA TOUR Champions victory.
Two strokes behind Stricker with three holes to play, Lehman closed with two birdies and a par for a 7-under 66 and a one-stroke victory over playing partner Stricker. The 58-year-old Lehman is coming off arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow.
"I haven't been playing a lot of golf," Lehman said. "Had surgery in early November. Had a great doctor and had a great physical therapist, Tom Bratcher, who kind of really put me through the paces over the last 3 1/2 to 4 months getting ready to play. I give him a lot the credit."
Stricker followed his second-round 63 with a 70. He was trying to become the 19th player to win in his first start on PGA TOUR Champions and first since Miguel Angel Jimenez in 2014.
"It was a good week. It was a good positive week," Stricker said. "I did a lot of good things. My game is always a work in progress, it's like anybody's, and I haven't played that much yet so far this year. I think this is just my fourth event. Yeah, I'm excited."
Stricker bogeyed the par-3 16th, matched Lehman with a birdie on the par-5 17th, and bogeyed the par-4 18th after hitting a 3-wood drive left into the water.
"I clawed my way back and I took a couple-shot lead going up to 16 there," Stricker said. "I three-putt and he makes birdie and that was really the tournament. The drive on the last, which I thought was a good one, it was 300 yards to that water there on that line and I hit 3-wood and we thought we had it into the wind, so I don't know how it went so far."
Lehman won for the first time since the 2015 SAS Championship, finishing at 20-under 199 on the Omni Tucson National's par-73 Catalina Course. He won The Open Championship in 1996 and four other PGA TOUR titles.
"I've been working hard to get in shape. Since I couldn't play golf, I spent a lot of time just trying to get in better shape and I think that really paid off this week. I feel much better over the golf ball, hit a lot of good shots, made some good putts, had a lot of energy."
Stricker turned 50 on Feb. 23. The 12-time PGA TOUR winner will captain the U.S. Presidents Cup Team in September.
"He played quite well himself," Lehman said. "He has nothing to be ashamed of. I can assure you, he played outstanding golf and I just made a couple more putts."
Lehman erased a three-stroke deficit on the first two holes, making a birdie and eagle, while Stricker opened with his first bogey of the week.
Bernhard Langer broke the PGA TOUR Champions record for consecutive rounds under par at 32, shooting a 65 to finish third at 15 under. Gil Morgan set the previous mark in 2000.
Fred Couples (70), Billy Andrade (70) and Gene Sauers (69) were 14 under.
Bob Estes (67) tied for 23rd at 8 under in his PGA TOUR Champions debut.
Tom Lehman holds on to win by one at Tucson Conquistadores
Tom Lehman, 66-67-66– 199 (-20)
• Established a new 54-hole tournament record with his 20-under-par score of 199. It broke the previous mark of 16-under-par 200 by Woody Austin in 2016.
• Claims his 10th career victory on PGA TOUR Champions and first since winning the 2015 SAS Championship in Cary, NC.
• Wins his third career title in his home state. He also won the 2000 Phoenix Open on the PGA TOUR and the 2012 Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
• Has won at least one event in seven of his nine years on Tour.
• Had 20 birdies, one eagle and just two bogeys during the week.
• Earns $225,000 and moves into fourth place in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race with $258,040.
• Was playing in just his second event of the season after being sidelined early in the campaign while recovering from left elbow surgery last November. He finished T57 at the Chubb Classic.
• Was a five-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including the 1996 Open Championship and a 10-time winner on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Won the Charles Schwab Cup in 2011 & 2012 and was PGA TOUR Champions Player of the Year the same years. Former Player of the Year on all three Tours, the only player to accomplish that feat.
Steve Stricker, 67-63-70 – 200 (-19)
• Tied for second in his first start on PGA TOUR Champions. Was bidding to become the 19th player in Tour history to win in his debut.
• His second-round 10-under-par 63 was the lowest round in tournament history in relation to par. Jim Carter shot a 9-under-par 63 a year ago in the second round.
• His 36-hole total of 16-under-par 130 was the lowest 36-hole score in the three-year history of the event. The previous low was 12-under-par 132 by Scott Verplank in 2016.
• Was a 12-time winner on the PGA TOUR with his last victory coming at the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
• Competed in Tucson eight times in his PGA TOUR career with best finish a T2 in 1994.
• Will serve as captain of the United States President Cup team this fall.
• Bernhard Langer closed with an 8-under-par 65 on Sunday to break Gil Morgan’s 17-year-old PGA TOUR Champions record for consecutive sub-par rounds. Langer’s 65 gave him 32 in succession dating back to last year. His streak began with a 3-under-par 69 in the first round of the Boeing Classic in August.
• Bernhard Langer narrowed the margin in the Charles Schwab Cup race with current leader Fred Couples with his third-place finish, but he still trails Couples by $54,616. Couples finished T4.
• Bernhard Langer’s third-place finish was his 75th top-3 finish in 191 starts on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Bob Tway made the third hole-in-one of his PGA TOUR Champions career when he aced No. 4 today. Tway used an 8-iron on the 167-yard hole. Tway’s other holes-in-one on PGA TOUR Champions both came in 2010 at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf and the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn. He also had seven holes-in-one on the PGA TOUR. Jerry Smith and Rod Spittle both had holes-in-one at this event in 2015.
• Scott McCarron has a streak of 198 consecutive holes without a three-putt, the best current streak on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Woody Austin, the 2016 tournament champion, finished T13, while Marco Dawson, the 2015 champion, was T42.
• Tommy Armour III posted a final-round 9-under-par 64, his lowest round since shooting a 64 at the 2011 Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn and Sunday’s low round. It helped him move up 45 places on Sunday from T60 to T15.
• Bob Estes finished T23 in his PGA TOUR Champions debut. He closed with a 6-under-par 67.
• Steve Pate, who open qualified on Monday, finished T9.
• With a scoring average for the event of 4.388 (+.388), the 18th hole is the most difficult hole on PGA TOUR Champions so far in 2017. There were just 16 birdies during the tournament.
• Sunday’s scoring average was 71.392 (-1.608). Overall a total of 168 players finished under par for the event, including 52 on Sunday. There were 64 on Saturday and 52 on Friday. A year ago there were 147 players under par.