David Frost is the only player with five top-10 finishes in the first five Champions Tour starts in 2013, including a win at the Toshiba Classic.
The second-ranked player in Charles Schwab Cup Points added another feat to his 2013 resume, as he became the first Champions Tour player to interact live on a video chat with fans through a Google+ Hangout.
Frost hit on a variety of topics, from his favorite wines being made by other pros to the memorable time he spent on the range with Ben Hogan. Check it out below.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Michael Allen has a chance to exorcise a pair of demons Sunday at a course that’s familiar and friendly to him.
Allen, a native of nearby San Mateo whose history at TPC Harding Park dates to his junior golf days, sits two shots back of leader Jay Don Blake at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. He’s 6 under par after a third consecutive 69 and is tied with Jay Haas and David Frost.
A year ago at the Champions Tour season finale he led going into Sunday after a third-round course-record 61, but John Cook shot 67 in the final round to Allen’s 70.
That was Allen’s last runner-up finish on Tour. This year his best effort has been a pair of T3s, extending a winless drought that stretches to 2009.
Allen won his very first Tour start that year, at the Senior PGA Championship, but the second win has proved elusive.
“Getting a win is kind of big in that we all come out here to play to win. In the end, that’s why we’re here,” Allen said. “When you finally win, you kind of remember that you know how to do it.”
Allen never won in 366 PGA TOUR starts, and he’s chasing Blake, who won once in 497 TOUR starts. Blake’s win came in 1991 and he went 20 years before winning again, in September at the Songdo IBD Championship.
“Jay Don, like I have been doing, he’s been a journeyman out here playing for a long time,” Allen said. “To me, when I go out now, I have fun with it. (Sunday’s) going to be a fun day no matter what.”
The fun will be enhanced by a vocal gallery that has followed him all week, family and friends from the area and from Arizona, where he now lives.
“I feel like I’m very comfortable in this area, hopefully that vibe will carry through and I can get some good mojo out there tomorrow,” Allen said.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – A year ago, Jay Don Blake was watching the Charles Schwab Cup Championship from his couch with a Diet Coke and a doughnut. He wasn’t eligible to compete.
This year, he’s not only eligible, he’s in the driver’s seat to possibly win.
Blake shot a 5-under 66 at TPC Harding Park Saturday in Round 3 to take over the top spot on the leaderboard, two shots clear of local favorite Michael Allen, David Frost and Jay Haas.
His round included five birdies and no bogeys.
“Just kind of what you want to do around here is try to eliminate the big mistakes. I did that pretty well,” Blake said.
A win Sunday would be the biggest of Blake’s career, and on the Champions Tour would lift him into another stratosphere of players – multiple-event winners. Not bad for a player who two months ago wasn’t even fully exempt on Tour.
Blake has held the journeyman’s label his entire career, winning just once on the PGA TOUR, at the 1991 Shearson Lehman Brothers Open at Torrey Pines. He was a regular on Tour from 1987 to 2004, then walked away well before age 50 due to persistent back pain.
“I couldn’t practice like I wanted to or perform like I felt like I should be able to,” said Blake, a Utah native. “I thought, I’ve got to back away, try to analyze my life, see what I’ve got going on. I finally decided to just get some help and get it taken care of.”
Blake never had back surgery, but spent three years stretching and manipulating his back and pelvic area into shape. He then gave it a go on the 50-and-over circuit, and had to fight and scratch for his place on Tour.
He finished eighth at the 2008 q-school, which made him conditionally exempt. He played 12 events in 2009 including three off open qualifiers, with a best finish of T4 at the Regions Charity Classic, at which he had a sponsor’s exemption.
In 2010 he played 15 events, four off qualifiers, and earned temporary exempt status from the reshuffle along the way. He had a third-place finish at the Senior Open Championship and finished 34th on the money list.
That still didn’t earn him a fully exempt spot on Tour. He sat in a golf cart on the first tee at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf as a first alternate, and also missed the Toshiba Classic and U.S. Senior Open. All the while though he was playing well, losing in a playoff to John Cook at the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am and piling up top-10s.
Finally, at the Songdo IBD Championship in mid-September, he won.
“It’s given me quite a bit of confidence, knowing that I feel like I belong and I can win out here,” Blake said. “I feel like I got to work hard to do that. It’s nice to have that win and then see if you can add to that.”
He’ll see on Sunday, playing in the final group with Jay Haas.
SAN FRANCISCO – Jay Don Blake, winless on the Champions Tour coming into this season, now has a chance for a second win in less than two months at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Blake, who won in a playoff at the Songdo IBD Championship, leads by two shots (8 under) at TPC Harding Park after a 5-under 66 in the third round. Michael Allen, David Frost and Jay Haas are two shots back at 6 under, and Loren Roberts is 5 under after the week’s low round (65).
Fred Couples, who co-led with Allen and Frost after two rounds, had two double bogeys on the back nine and shot 74, falling into a tie for 12th at 1 under. Playing partner Mark Calcavecchia shot 70 and is 4 under, needing to finish first or second to have a shot at the Schwab Cup.
Tom Lehman, the Schwab Cup points leader, shot 72 and is tied for 16th. He still projects to win the Cup based on the leaderboard through three rounds.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Tom Lehman is still projected to win the Schwab Cup, but Round 2 of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship showed it won’t be a walkover.
Mark Calcavecchia shot 68 at TPC Harding Park, tied for the low round of the day, to climb into a tie for fourth at 3 under behind Michael Allen, Fred Couples, David Frost.
Calcavecchia is second in Schwab Cup points and needs a combination of a win and a Lehman T2 or worse, or a runner-up with Lehman at T12 or worse.
Lehman is tied for 11th after a second-round 72. Calcavecchia said he’s not noticing – yet.
“He’s hanging around. He’ll be there at the end,” Calcavecchia said. “I’m not going to pay attention to him or David Frost or anybody else. There’s two rounds left. We’ll see what happens with the weather.”
Calcavecchia’s first two rounds have been an adventure. Thursday he shot a 71 that he said could have been a 75 or 76, were it not for a good putter. Friday’s 68, which included a holeout eagle, he said could have been a 65 had that same putter returned.
Friday he put a new Ping G20 driver in his bag, overnighted from the company after the first round. On the 10th tee Thursday he hit a bizarre drive that was heading deep into the parking lot before hitting a tree.
“I thought the head was loose, but it’s probably my head that’s loose,” Calcavecchia said to laughter in the media center. “Threw a new one in the bag and drove it great.”
The other three players who came into the week mathematically eligible to take the Schwab Cup with a win don’t appear likely to pull it off. Peter Senior (third in points) is tied for 24th at 5 over, John Cook (fourth) is tied for 21st at 4 over and Russ Cochran (fifth) is tied for 14th at 1 over.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Fred Couples got off to an inauspicious start for a leader in Round 2 of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, promptly making double bogey on his first hole at TPC Harding Park.
But he hung around with a string pars until the 10th hole, where he made birdie, then added two more later on the back nine for a 1-under 70, enough to claim a share of the lead with Michael Allen and David Frost.
Friday was a nicer day that perhaps should have seen more low scores (Thursday and Friday’s low rounds were 68s, the first rounds in three years on the Champions Tour where the low round was that high), but Couples noted that Harding Park is no pushover.
“They moved a couple tees up, but still kept most of them back,” Couples said. “Everyone knows it’s cold. But it’s just a tough, tough course. I’m not dissatisfied shooting 1 under today at all.”
On the first hole he pushed a drive into the right rough, leaving tree limbs to contend with for his approach. He left that short in a bunker, blasted out 30 feet past the hole and three-putted. But on the back side he birdied the par-5 10th, hit a wedge to eight feet and made the putt on 15 and drove the ball pin-high on the par-4 16th, which had its tees moved up.
Two weeks ago on the Champions Tour, Couples posted 23 under at the AT&T Championship, winning by seven shots. With two rounds to go here, three are tied for the lead and and 10 are within four shots.
“It’s logjammed up there. Even if you don’t shoot a bad round tomorrow, someone shoots 68, you shoot well, you have a shot,” Couples said. “There are rounds out there where you can shoot 65 or 66 on this course. No one has done it yet because the first two days were pretty tough.”
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Remember Bernhard Langer?
OK, that’s a little overdramatic considering he’s the defending Schwab Cup champion. But this season hasn’t been anything like his usual on the Champions Tour, due to a run of injuries.
Langer’s hoping to end it on an upswing, however, sitting at 3 under in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship after a round of 68 Friday. He’s one shot behind co-leaders Michael Allen, Fred Couples and David Frost.
A win in the season finale would actually be his second of the year, but his February win at the ACE Group Classic may as well be many years ago.
“Sure seems that way,” Langer said. “Last three years, I was winning a regular basis, every four, five, six events. It’s been a tough year health-wise.”
Not long after that win he had surgery on his left thumb, injured in a freak bicycle accident. He missed four months, more than what he was led to believe.
“The surgeon made it sound pretty simple: ‘We can take care of that, you’ll be back on Tour in eight weeks,’” Langer said. “It was healed after eight weeks, but then I developed arthritis in those two joints. It’s been an uphill battle ever since.”
He also had fluid drained from his left knee after the British Open and has battled left ankle problems.
Langer had two top-10s in Champions Tour majors over the summer, but hasn’t had a top-5 since the February win. He came to TPC Harding Park 22nd in points, far from being able to defend his Schwab Cup.
But his game is returning, evidenced by Friday’s 68. He missed just two fairways and took 25 putts for the round, the best in the 30-man field
“I feel like I’m now not scared,” Langer said. “I know (the thumb’s) going to hurt on certain shots, but I’m going after the ball. I just take the pain, it goes away after 10 seconds. Not like a toothache that’s constant.”
Many more birdies are available today at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship under blue skies and temperatures near 60 degrees. David Frost is taking advantage, surging into the lead at 5 under with a round that includes four birdies in a five-hole span from the eighth through 12th holes. He bogeyed the 13th, however.
Bernhard Langer, the 2010 Schwab Cup winner, is at 4 under along with Kenny Perry at TPC Harding Park.
Jay Haas double bogeyed the 12th to fall back to 3 under; he had led earlier in the day. Playing partner Fred Couples, who also shared the first round lead with Haas, is 1 over on the day. He began his second round with a double bogey at the first and has one birdie since then.
Points leader Tom Lehman is tied for 10th, even for his second round. Mark Calcavecchia, second in points, shot 68 but let a few get away late in the round. He’s at 3 under and tied for fourth, though he needs to finish in the top two to have any shot at stealing the points title from Lehman.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – To get a sense of how different Round 1 was in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship compared to a glorious two days of practice and pro-am, Jay Haas offers two versions of the par-4 14th at TPC Harding Park.
In great weather Wednesday, he had 168 yards to the green. A 7-iron.
In the cold, windy, drizzly Thursday, off what he called a “smashed” drive, he had 221 in. A 17-degree hybrid shot.
Then again, Haas knocked the hybrid on the green (one of just a few to do so Thursday), a microcosm of his 3 under day in the opening round. The former Schwab Cup winner, who is still hearing congratulations from the gallery for son Bill’s FedExCup title, made four birdies with just one bogey on a day were just seven of the 30 players were under par. David Frost and Michael Allen are at 2 under.
“It was a very difficult day,” Haas said. “The last few days kind of teased us a little bit. Just the cool, the wind, the rain, makes this place pretty difficult.
“Ball just does not go very far out here, so we’re hitting one or two clubs more than maybe we would somewhere else where it would be above room temperature, I guess you would say.”
Fred Couples also shot 3-under 68 and will be paired tomorrow with his Presidents Cup assistant captain.
Couples, a winner in two of his last five starts on the Champions Tour including a seven-shot romp two weeks ago at the AT&T Championship, got to five under at the turn Thursday but had three bogeys coming in, offset by a birdie on No. 18.
“I have no problem with shooting a couple over on the back; it was nice to get off to that kind of start,” Couples said. “The most exciting thing is that I’ll be playing with Jay tomorrow. We haven’t played much this year and with what’s going on, we’ll have a good time out there.”
Jason Gore birdied his final hole on Sunday to finish off a round of 73 and make the cut at the 110th U.S. Open.
The only thing cooler would have been if that birdie had come on the 18th hole rather than the ninth. The affable man from Southern California and his wife Megan were married several years ago in a ceremony on Pebble Beach’s signature hole.
Gore was one of the lucky 83 who survived the cut which came at 7 over. A total of 25 players were tied on the magic number which is 10 strokes off the pace being set by Graeme McDowell.
Y.E. Yang was among those who weren’t so lucky. He was 1 over for the tournament through 27 holes but made five bogeys, two triple bogeys and a double bogey on the way to a closing 49.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, who tied for second, 15 strokes behind Tiger Woods when he won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was also among those making an early exit. Former Masters champ Trevor Immelman also fell one shot shy, as did the 2006 U.S. Open champ Geoff Ogilvy and Adam Scott, who still improved by eight and four shots, respectively, in the second round.
Rory McIlroy, who won his first PGA TOUR event last month at the Quail Hollow Championship, didn’t give himself a shot – shooting 10 over. Ben Crane, who won in San Diego earlier this year and had finished 12th or better in his last four starts, also missed the cut.
Champions Tour vets Tom Lehman and David Frost were among the other early departures. Lehman had beaten Frost and Fred Couples in the Senior PGA Championship two weeks ago. – Helen Ross