Notes: Strong field at TPC San Antonio; Spittle defends

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October 10, 2011
Champions Tour staff

The Champions Tour heads to TPC San Antonio and the AT&T Canyons Course for the AT&T Championship on October 10-16. The purse is $1.8 million and the winner will receive $270,000 and 270 Charles Schwab Cup points. Last year, Canadian Rod Spittle made a 4-foot par putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Jeff Sluman and become the 11th player in Champions Tour history to open qualify and win a tournament.

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LAST WEEK

Brad Faxon carded 69-65 -- 134 for a one stroke lead after 36-holes at the Insperity Championship. Heavy rain caused the cancellation of the final round and Faxon was declared the winner of his first Champions Tour title in his sixth career start. Faxon jumped from 87th to 47th on the money list and is about $200,000 behind Tom Pernice, Jr. at No. 30.

• Tom Pernice Jr. was the only Champions Tour professional competing at the Frys.com Open on the PGA TOUR. Pernice finished T36; however he dropped from No. 27 to No. 30 on the Champions Tour money list by missing the Insperity Championship. After this week's AT&T Championship, the top 30 advance to the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park.

• Faxon's win at the Insperity Championship marks the fourth straight event won by a first-time winner on the Champions Tour -- Mark Calcavecchia/Boeing Classic, Jay Don Blake/Songdo IBD Championship, Kenny Perry/SAS Championship. The last time there were four straight first-time winners on the Champions Tour was in 2001 when Bobby Wadkins (Lightpath Long Island Classic), Bruce Lietzke (3M Championship), Steve Veriato (Novell Utah Showdown), Walter Hall (AT&T Canada Senior Open) all claimed their first titles on the circuit in succession.

• The Insperity Championship announced during tournament week that it will move from its traditional October timeslot into the week of April 30-May 6 in 2012.

• This year marked the third edition of "Tees For Charity", where oversized golf balls and tees were decorated and autographed before being auctioned off during the Insperity Championship's Pro-Am Draw Party. Almost $10,000 was raised for Golfers Against Cancer, a charitable organization in Kingwood, Texas, established by a group of local golfers wishing to help friends and family members diagnosed with the disease, bringing the three-year total for Tees For Charity to just over $30,000. Jack Nicklaus' creation went for almost $1,000. http://together.pgatour.com/stories/insperity-chari-tee.html

• The Dave Marr Award, presented annually by the Insperity Championship to a person who exemplifies honor, integrity and sportsmanship, was presented to Jay Haas at a special dinner during tournament week. Recipients of the Dave Marr Award, named for the winner of the 1966 PGA Championship, include: Arnold Palmer (2000), Brian Henning (2001), Miller Barber/Don January (2002), Ed Seay (2003), Ben Crenshaw (2006), Dan Jenkins (2007), Larry Nelson (2008), Tom Watson (2009) and Fuzzy Zoeller (2010).

Mark Calcavecchia, Jay Haas and Kenny Perry, all winners this season, will represent the Champions Tour in the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge, held November 8 at Rio Secco GC in Las Vegas. The event will be aired December 13 at 7 p.m. ET on Golf Channel.

• It was announced last week that the 2011 Principal Charity Classic, a Champions Tour event played at Glen Oaks CC in West Des Moines, Iowa, will donate a record $750,000 to local children's charities. http://together.pgatour.com/stories/the-principal-charity-classic.html

CHARLES SCHWAB CUP

Corey Pavin moved from 17th to 16th in the Charles Schwab Cup points standings after a T10 finish at the Insperity Championship but there were no changes in the top-15 on the list.

• Faxon, winner of the Insperity Championship, appears on the Charles Schwab Cup points standings for the first time, in 39th position.

• A total of 13 players have appeared in the weekly top five of the Charles Schwab Cup points standings throughout the 22 tournaments this season, but only two players have made just a single appearance -- Rod Spittle (5th in Week 2), Bernhard Langer (5th in Week 3). Tom Lehman has been No. 1 every week except for the season-opening week, when he was No. 2 behind John Cook.

• With two events remaining, only eight players have a mathematical chance to catch Tom Lehman in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup.

COMING UP

• After nine years at Oak Hills C.C., the AT&T Championship is moving to a new venue, the TPC San Antonio AT&T Canyons Course designed by Pete Dye and Bruce Lietzke.

• The AT&T Championship is expected to have one of the year's strongest fields of the year, with 30 of last year's top 31 money winners committed. The only player missing will be Fred Funk, who is sidelined with injuries. There are seven World Golf Hall of Fame members committed to play, as well as 19 different winners of PGA TOUR major championships.

• The AT&T Championship holds the distinction on the Champions Tour of being played for the longest span in one metropolitan area. The tournament will be played for the 27th consecutive year this week. The ACE Group Classic is second in longevity, with a run of 24 years in Naples, Fla.

• In the 26-year history of the tournament, only three winners have recorded any round of par/higher: J.C. Snead (second round/73/1993), Jim Albus (third round/73/1994) and Phil Blackmar (first round/72/2009).

• Four of the last five AT&T Championship winners have made this event their first Champions Tour victory -- Fred Funk (2006), John Cook (2007), Phil Blackmar (2009) and Spittle (2010). Cook also won this event in 2008.

Tom Jenkins will make his 14th appearance in this tournament, more than any other player in this year's field.

• Last year, none of the 30 players who came into the AT&T Championship in the top 30 on the money-list were bumped out of the top 30. The top-30 at the conclusion of the AT&T Championship will earn spots in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

NUMBERS

3 -- The number of international winners on the Champions Tour in 2011. Two of the three were back-to-back (Bernhard Langer/ACE Group Classic, Nick Price/Toshiba Classic, Mark McNulty (with David Eger)/Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf).

3 -- The number of golf facilities to currently hold two PGA TOUR-sanctioned events annually (TPC San Antonio, TPC Sawgrass and Pebble Beach Golf Links). TPC San Antonio hosts the Champions Tour's AT&T Championship and the PGA TOUR's Valero Texas Open. TPC Sawgrass annually hosts THE PLAYERS Championship and the Nationwide Tour's Winn-Dixie Jacksonville Open. In addition to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Pebble Beach hosts the Champions Tour's Nature Valley First Tee Open.

13 -- The number of top-10 finishes by Mark Calcavecchia, the most this season.

431 -- The total number of players who have competed in the AT&T Championship over the previous 26 years.

DID YOU KNOW??

• When Kenny Perry won the 2011 SAS Championship he did it by shooting a higher score each day (66-69-70). The last player to do that in a 54-hole event on the Champions Tour was Russ Cochran -- a year earlier, at the 2010 SAS Championship (64-67-71).

Rod Spittle earned his first Champions Tour win at last year's AT&T Championship after open qualifying. Spittle made his Champions Tour debut in 2005 at this same tournament, then known as the SBC Championship. After open qualifying, he finished T74.

ON THIS DATE

10/11/91 -- Chip Beck ties a PGA TOUR record when he shoots a 13-under-par 59 in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational.

10/13/85 -- Mike Fetchick celebrates his 63rd birthday by winning the Hilton Head Seniors International, making him the oldest winner in Champions Tour history.

10/14/07 -- In just his fourth Champions Tour start, Bernhard Langer wins the Administaff Small Business Classic with a 54-hole total of 25-under-par 191, tying the Champions Tour all-time scoring record (Bruce Fleisher/2002 RJR Championship, Loren Roberts/2006 MasterCard Championship at Hualalai). NB: David Frost matched this record at the 2010 3M Championship.

QUOTES TO NOTE

"He's not a 19-year-old with all the answers. He really wants to learn, observe and watch. He loves to ask questions." -- Champions Tour professional John Cook sums up the No. 1 amateur in the world Patrick Cantlay. Cook and Cantlay play at Virginia CC in Long Beach, Calif.

"I knew it was strong out here and difficult, but it did surprise me a little bit how tough it is to win." -- Corey Pavin, who has 15 PGA TOUR victories including the 1995 U.S. Open, remains winless on the Champions Tour after 31 career starts.

"If Jack Nicklaus and I can win a major in our 40s then why not Tiger Woods. Welcome to the family." -- Gary Player, who along with Nicklaus is a Rolex ambassador, 'tweeted' this message after Rolex announced an endorsement deal with Woods.

"The slowdown in golf course design the last three years has really helped my game. That time previously invested in golf course design is now given to practice." -- Tom Lehman explains one of the reasons he is No. 1 on the Charles Schwab Cup points standings.

"At the end of the day, more than anything I'm all about just trying to do my best. I'll live with whatever I get because of the fact that I know I've left nothing behind." -- Tom Lehman reveals a second reason why he is No. 1.

"I don't think I did anything I don't always try to do." -- Michael Allen sums up his opening-round 9-under 63 at the Insperity Championship.

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