Schwab Cup Championship: Round 4 notebook

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November 07, 2010
Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR staff

Weather: Rainy during the morning with periods of sunshine midway through the afternoon. The final round was scheduled to begin at 9:45 a.m. but did not start until 10:48 a.m. with players going off both the first and 10th tees. Lift, clean and place rules in effect. High temperatures were in the low-60s with winds from the W at 10-15 mph.

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Final Leaderboard: 1--John Cook (-17); 2--Michael Allen (-15); T3--David Frost, Bernhard Langer (-12); T5--Russ Cochran, Fred Funk, Tom Lehman, Tom Pernice Jr. (-11)

After Michael Allen first made a 30-foot birdie from the fringe at No. 10, John Cook topped him with a 15-foot birdie of his own to preserve a one-stroke lead. Both players made pars over the next five holes before Cook widened his margin to two shots with a two-putt birdie from the front fringe at the drivable par-4 16th hole. Allen was unable to get up and down from the greenside bunker, missing a 12-foot birdie putt.

• With his second consecutive victory at the season-ending event, John Cook claims the fifth title of his Champions Tour career (in his 80th career start on the circuit) and becomes the first player since Jeff Sluman (2008-09 First Tee Open at Pebble Beach) to successfully defend a title on the Champions Tour. He also becomes the first to successfully defend a title on two different courses since Bernhard Langer at the 2007-08 Administaff Small Business Classic near Houston. Langer won at Augusta Pines GC and then repeated at The Woodlands CC.

John Cook becomes the third player to win back-to-back season-ending championships, joining Mike Hill (1990-91), Jim Thorpe (2003, 2006-07) and also becomes the fifth player to claim multiple Schwab Cup Championships, joining Raymond Floyd (1992, 1994) and Tom Watson (2000, 2002, 2005).

John Cook has now claimed all five of his career titles on the Champions Tour in October/November. In 14 starts during these two months, Cook has 10 top 10s. He's now played 48 rounds during October/November with 33 scores in the 60s and is a combined 103-under.

John Cook's win today is his fifth career TOUR title in California. In addition to both of his Charles Schwab Cup Championships, Cook claimed the 1981 Bing Crosby National Pro-Am, and the 1992 and1997 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic.

John Cook earns a check for $440,000 and he finishes the 2010 season with a career-best $1,924,305. He finishes third in earnings on the Champions Tour for the second consecutive year.

John Cook's 17-under-par score of 267 is the highest score in relation to par to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship since Jim Thorpe won the 2006 event with a 17-under 271 total. Cook and Bernhard Langer were the only two players to post four rounds in the 60s and it was Cook's second straight year at this event with four consecutive sub-70 scores.

John Cook's two-stroke victory marked the fifth consecutive year the winner has prevailed by multiple strokes. Cook won by five shots at Sonoma Golf Club last year. Jim Thorpe won by two strokes in 2006, by three in 2007 and Andy Bean won by nine shots in 2008.

• For the second consecutive year, John Cook made just two bogeys in the season-ending, four-round championship, the fewest by any player in the field. Michael Allen made 20 birdies, the most by a player this week. Tommy Armour III was the only player with a pair of eagles in the tournament.

Name Charles Schwab Cup Points Points Behind Annuity
Bernhard Langer 3,596 --- $1 million
Fred Couples 2,771 825 $500,000
John Cook 2,451 1,145 $300,000
Michael Allen 1,846 1,750 $200,000
Russ Cochran 1,818 1,778 $100,000

• Germany's Bernhard Langer became the first international player to claim the Charles Schwab Cup, earning a $1 million annuity. Langer finished T3 this week and earned 389 Schwab Cup points today. He finished the season with 3,596 points, the second largest point total in Schwab Cup history (Tom Watson-4,370/2003). Langer's 825-point differential is also the widest margin since Watson won the Schwab Cup by 1,324 points over Jim Thorpe in 2003. Below are the final standings of the top-five finishers:

Bernhard Langer also earned an unprecedented third straight Arnold Palmer Award as the Champions Tour's leading money-winner. He also became the third player overall to lead the money list three times -- Don January (1980, 1983, 1984), Hale Irwin (1997, 1998, 2002).

Bernhard Langer closed out the year with a personal-best $2,648,939, the fourth-highest money total in Champions Tour history (Hale Irwin, 2002/$3,028,304; Hale Irwin, 1998/$2,861,945; Larry Nelson, 2000/$2,708,005). Fred Couples was the only other player over the $2 million plateau ($2,344,894) this year, marking the first time since 2007 (Jay Haas/Loren Roberts) that multiple players went over the $2-million level in official earnings. Langer won $2,035,073 in 2008 and $2,139,451 last year.

• Langer is just the third player in Champions Tour history with three or more consecutive $2 million seasons. Hale Irwin reeled off six straight $2 million campaigns from 1997-2002, while Bruce Fleisher had three straight $2 million seasons from 1999-2001.

Fred Couples set an all-time record for lowest scoring average in a Champions Tour season. Couples claimed the circuit's Byron Nelson Award with a stroke average of 67.96, shattering the old mark of 68.59 by Hale Irwin in 1998. Of his 48 stroke-play rounds, Couples had 34 scores in the 60s including starting his Champions Tour career with 12 straight sub-70 scores, one short of the Hale Irwin's all-time record of 13 consecutive scores in the 60s in 1999.

• For the ninth time in the 10-year history of the Charles Schwab Cup, the champion was determined at this tournament. The lone exception was in 2002 when Hale Irwin claimed the title before the event began.

• Since its inception, the only player to overtake the Schwab Cup leader coming into the final event was Tom Watson in 2005. Taking advantage of triple points (the third and final year triple points were awarded); Watson was a one-stroke victor in the tournament over Jay Haas and surged past the previous week's leader, Dana Quigley, to win the Cup by 247 points. Quigley finished T5 that week.

Michael Allen recorded his second consecutive runner-up effort on the Champions Tour this week and fourth second-place finish of the 2010 season. On October 10, Allen lost in a playoff to Mark O'Meara at the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship at the TPC Potomac outside of Washington. He also finished T2 at the JELD-WEN Tradition in late August and was second to Bill Haas on the PGA TOUR at the Viking Classic in Mississippi the week prior to the Constellation Energy Senior Players.

Michael Allen's score of 61-70--131 for the final two rounds of the championship equaled the record for the best second 36-hole score. In 1999 at the Dunes Golf & Beach Club, Gary McCord shot 64-67-131 and went on to win. In 2007 at Sonoma Golf Club, Hale Irwin shot 66-65-131 on the weekend and finished T7.

• Tom Pernice used three birdies over his final seven holes to post a T5 finish at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, his ninth straight top-10 finish in 10 overall starts on the Champions Tour this year. Pernice opened his 2010 season with a T27 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. His best finishes were seconds at the Home Care & Hospice First Tee Open at Pebble Beach and SAS Championship.

• Russ Cochran closed out a stellar second season on the Champions Tour with his second top-five finish in the season-ending event. After recording a second-place finish last year, Cochran was T5 at TPC Harding Park and now has reeled off eight straight sub-par rounds at this event. Thanks to consecutive wins earlier this year at the Posco E&C Songdo Championship and SAS Championship, Cochran ended up fourth on the final money list, eclipsing the million-dollar mark for the first time ever ($1,754,003).

Tom Kite, the second-oldest player in the field, finished solo 9th this week in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. It was Kite's eighth top-10 performance in 11 overall appearances in the season-ending event, tying him with Gil Morgan for the second-most in championship history. Only Hale Irwin has more top-10s at this event (9).

• A total of 13 players finished the year with earnings of over $1 million, two fewer than last year. Loren Roberts went over the $1 million mark for the fifth consecutive year, the longest active streak of seven-figure seasons.

Jay Haas finished 16th at this year's Charles Schwab Cup Championship, snapping a streak of five straight years of winning at least one Champions Tour event. Loren Roberts' victory earlier this season at the Dick's Sporting Goods Open extended to six, his number of consecutive years with at least one title, the longest current streak.

• With lift, clean and place rules in effect for all four rounds, the 30-player field averaged 69.767 at the par-71 TPC Harding Park this year. Last year at the par-72 Sonoma Golf Club, the field averaged 69.561 for the championship.

• The par-4 18th hole at TPC Harding Park played as the most difficult for this year's Charles Schwab Cup Championship. The 480-yard hole averaged 4.175 and yielded just nine total birdies for the 30-player field over four rounds. The easiest hole was the par-5 9th (4.392), yielding four eagles and 68 birdies for the week.

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