SAN FRANCISCO – The race for Rookie of the Year ended Sunday with no clear-cut winner but perhaps some swaying of opinions.
Esteban Toledo and Rocco Mediate, each a two-time winner on the Champions Tour in 2013, are the clear frontrunners but several scenarios were left to be played out at TPC Harding Park in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. One or the other could have iced the awar but that likely didn’t happen, although Mediate did tie for fifth.
Toledo and Mediate were sliver-close on the Money List and the Charles Schwab Cup points list. Toledo, who started the year with only conditional status, had the slightest edge because, as Duffy Waldorf said, of how much he improved this year.
Toledo tied for 17th at TPC Harding Park with a 4-under 280 total on rounds of 70-71-69-70.
Mediate (70-70-66-68--274) moved past Toledo on both the Money List and the Charles Schwab Cup points list. That could be a deciding factor when Champions Tour players vote on the award.
Mediate moved up to 10th on the Money List, two spots ahead of Toledo.
O'MEARA TALKS COUPLES: Mark O’Meara, playing in the final group with Couples, made double-bogey 6 at the 18th hole. It dropped him out of solo second into a tie with Bernhard Langer and Peter Senior.
“Fred played very well,” said O’Meara, who also played the second round with Couples. “He did what he had to do. It's not easy with the lead. He drove the ball pretty darn good and he putted pretty well and that's kind of what it takes, to be honest with you.
“Just kind of I wish I would have hit a couple better shots on the last hole. There's no excuse for that type of finish. But I felt like through the week I played pretty well. I know going into today I was leading greens in regulation and I missed two greens the first day, two greens the second day, three yesterday and I think I missed about five (Sunday).”
Bottom line, O’Meara said, is that he was too far behind to start the final round – 5 shots.
“Especially with this golf course and Fred's length,” he said.
SWEET 16: The tee on the par 4 16th hole was moved up to 255 yards. It made it a risk-reward hole and opportunity for some fireworks down the stretch. In the first three rounds, the 16th played from 339 yards to 342 yards.
Kenny Perry provided some of the excitement when his tee shot rolled just over the edge and finished 10 feet from the hole. He missed the putt.
It was also at the 16th hole that Perry figured the script had been written and edited with a result in his favor. That’s where he saw Couples laying up instead of going for it. It told Perry that Couples was in control, knew exactly where he stood and was content just to steer it into the clubhouse.
BY THE NUMBERS: The victory by Couples was his fifth official career win in a TOUR-sponsored event in California. He’s also won 10 unofficial titles in California.
Fred Funk shot a final-round 7-under 64. Funk shot 32-32. He had four 32s in the tournament. Funk had 32 on the front nine in each of the first two rounds and had 38 on the back both times to shoot back-to-back 70s. Funk finished at 9-under 275.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 6-under 65 with a bogey at the 18th hole. He was 6-under through 12 holes.
MORE NOTES: Couples becomes the 18th different winner on the Champions Tour this year and the 17th different winner of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in the 24-year history of the event.
-- Couples wins for the first time as a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and joins Bernhard Langer (ACE Group Classic, Greater Gwinnett Championship) as the second member of the World Golf Hall of Fame to win on the Champions Tour this year. Couples also joins Raymond Floyd (1992, 1994), Hale Irwin (1998) and Tom Watson (2000, 2002, 2005) as the fourth member of the World Golf Hall of Fame to claim the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
-- Couples extends to four his streak of consecutive years with at least one title on the Champions Tour. On the PGA TOUR, Couples won at least one event for five straight years from 1990-1994.
-- Couples earns 880 Charles Schwab Cup points and secures the third position in the final Schwab Cup standings (2,425 points), earning $300,000 in a bonus annuity payout.
-- Couples earns a check for $440,000 and finishes fourth on the final 2013 Champions Tour money list with $1,706,812 ($113,787 per event), his fourth straight year over the seven-figure mark in single-season earnings and his best earnings year on the Champions Tour since 2010. Couples is now over the $6 million mark in Champions Tour career earnings ($6,323,725 or $119,316 per event).
-- Coupples wins his fifth official career TOUR-sponsored event in the state of California (PGA TOUR-1990 Nissan Los Angeles Open, 1992 Nissan Los Angeles Open, 1998 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic; Champions Tour- 2010 Toshiba Classic, 2013 Charles Schwab Cup Championship). Couples has also won 10 unofficial events in California.
-- Couples’ best finish on the PGA TOUR at the season-ending TOUR Championship was T5 in 1992 at Pinehurst and solo fifth in 1996 at Southern Hills.
-- Couples' six-stroke victory marked the eighth consecutive year that the champion has won by two or more strokes and the second year in succession the margin was six strokes. Tom Lehman won the title a year ago in Scottsdale at Desert Mountain where the event returns in 2014.
-- Fred Funk posted the low Sunday round when he fired a 7-under-par 64. It was his best round since he closed with a 10-under-par 62 in his final round at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn.
-- Tom Pernice, Jr. played his final 38 holes without a bogey and closed with a 5-under-par 66, his low round of the tournament.
-- A total of 17 players reached the $1 million mark in yearly earnings in 2013 with three players reaching that mark this week -- Peter Senior, Jeff Sluman and Mark O’Meara.
-- Peter Senior’s T2 finish was his best showing in this tournament in four appearances and his check for $214,33 increased his 2013 earnings to $1,150,411, the third year in succession he has reached the $1 million mark. Senior has now won $4,483,977 in 95 starts, the most money won by a Champions Tour player without a victory, an average of $47,200 per start..
-- With his T3 finish, Bernhard Langer closed the year with 10 consecutive top-10 finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in his last 14 starts. He led all players in 2013 with 18 top-10 finishes, five more than Kirk Triplett and David Frost.
-- Bernhard Langer claims the Arnold Palmer Award as the Champions Tour’s leading money winner for the fifth time in the six years. He finishes the campaign with $2,410,428, the second-highest total of his career. His best season was in 2010 when he earned $2,648,939.
-- Of the seven rookies in this year’s field, Rocco Mediate and Bart Bryant had the best finishes – T5.
-- Bernhard Langer, Fred Funk, Tom Pernice, Jr., and Gene Sauers all posted bogey-free rounds on Sunday.
-- For the four rounds, the par-4 18th hole played as the most difficult (4.242/+.242), yielding just 14 total birdies. The par-3, No. 8 ranked second overall at (3.208/+.208), while the easiest was the par-5 No. 9 at 4.458/-.542), which yielded five eagles and 62 birdies.
-- The final scoring average for the event was 69.925 and 70.067 on Sunday. When the event was staged here in 2011 the cumulative scoring average was 71.075 and in 2010 it was 69.767.
-- There was just one eagle (David Frost/No. 16) made at TPC Harding Park today running the total number of eagles for the week to eight. Chevron is making a $10,000 donation for every eagle made this week through their Eagles For Education program. Each eagle will provide funding for 1000 kids to participate in The First Tee of San Francisco program for a year. The Eagles For Education program is in effect at several other PGA TOUR and Champions Tour events during the season.