Round 3 Notes: Nature Valley First Tee Open

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July 10, 2011
Dave Senko, Champions Tour staff

Weather: Variable cloudiness with highs in the low 60s. Winds were from the NW at 5-15 mph.

Final Results: 1 -- Jeff Sluman 206 (-10); T2 -- David Eger, Brad Bryant & Jay Haas 208 (-8); T5 -- Tom Pernice, Jr., Mark Wiebe, Steve Lowery, Mark Brooks & Bobby Clampett 209 (-7).

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Jeff Sluman made it three wins in his last four starts at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach when he prevailed by two strokes at the famed Northern California layout. Sluman, who won the event in 2008 and 2009, started the day three strokes behind 36-hole leader Jay Haas. However, Sluman was able to avoid the pitfalls the others faced on Sunday on a course that became more difficult as the week progressed. Sluman made birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 on the back nine and despite a bogey at No. 15, he parred his final three holes, including a great save from the bunker at No. 17. Haas was among three others who led or shared the lead on Sunday. However, after a quick start with consecutive birdies on Nos. 1 and 2, he played his final 16 holes in five-over-par. A disastrous three-hole stretch (Nos. 10-12) ended Mark Brooks' chances and two double bogeys and a bogey proved Bobby Clampett's downfall.

• The win was Jeff Sluman's fourth on the Champions Tour. His other victory came at the 2008 Bank of America Championship. He earns a first-place check for $240,000 as well as 240 points in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race, moving up to sixth place. The victory also gives Sluman a two-year exemption into the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

• Sluman's 54-hole total of 10-under-par 206 matched his winning total from 2009, the highest winning score in tournament history. Sluman's 2-under-par 70 matched the highest final round score by a winner (Ted Schulz in 2010).

Jeff Sluman credited part of his victory to his birdies on No. 14 on the weekend. It ranked as the second most difficult hole on the course for the tournament. Overall, Sluman had 17 birdies, the most by a winner since Hale Irwin in 2005.

• Despite falling short in his bid to win his first tournament in nearly 30 years Bobby Clampett still earned a spot in the field for the 3M Championship as a non-exempt top-10 finisher thanks to his T4 finish. It would have been a special victory had Clampett won since he grew up in Monterey and attended Stevenson School less than a mile from the Pebble Beach Golf Links.

• With his T2 finish, Jay Haas has now recorded six top-10 finishes in seven starts in this tournament. It was Haas' third second-place finish here. He was second in 2004 and T2 in 2006.

John Cook moved into third place in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup race thanks to a T10 finish which earned him 38 points, allowing him to jump Tom Watson on the current chart now with 868 points. Tom Lehman continues to lead with 1,533 points followed by Nick Price with 1,053. Tom Watson is fourth with 850 points and David Eger's T2 finish moved him up one spot from sixth to fifth place with 833 points.

• Casie Cathrea (Livermore, CA) and her partner Ben Crenshaw won the pro-junior competition, finishing with a 54-hole total of 23-under-par 193. Cathrea represents The First Tee of Greater Sacramento. Brandon Baumgarten ( Granite Bay, CA) and his partner Brad Bryant were second at 19-under-par 197. Baumgarten is also from The First Tee of Greater Sacramento.

• With Jeff Sluman's come-from-behind win, only four of 14 Saturday leaders/co-leaders have gone on to win on the Champions Tour this year. The last time it happened was in April when John Cook won the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am in a playoff.

Brad Bryant's T2 finish was his best showing since he was T2 at the 2008 AT&T Champions Classic in California.

Russ Cochran finished T10 in his first start since April's Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.

• Defending champion Ted Schulz finished T27.

• Amateur Nicole Johnson, an F-18 pilot from Houston with a call sign of "Bad Dog" , aced No. 4 at the Del Monte Golf Course in the Core Values Cup, a one-day event held in conjunction with this tournament. The event was made up of amateur teams which had competed in the tournament's first two rounds as well as the 56 junior players who did not advance into Sunday's final round at Pebble Beach.

• There were 13 eagles made at Pebble Beach and at Del Monte during the tournament. Chevron is making an $8,000 donation for every eagle made this week through their Eagles For Education program for a total of $104,000. Each eagle will provide funding for 20 kids to participate in The First Tee program for a year.

• The field averaged 73.303 in the final round, the highest average of the three rounds at Pebble Beach. The most difficult hole was No. 10 with an average score of 4.305.

• "Perhaps I'm the Earl of Pebble Beach", said three-time winner Jeff Sluman. That is Sluman's caddie's first name.

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