By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO – Loren Roberts came to TPC Harding Park and the season finale more or less just to put a period on the season and move on. For the two-time Schwab Cup winner and 12-time event winner, there was just nothing cooking this year.
But after a 65 Saturday at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, putting him at 5 under for the tournament and three off the lead, he still has something to play for in 2011.
Roberts’ round was the lowest of the week, and his lowest round on the Champions Tour since June at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, where he shot 67-67-65 to finish tied for fifth. He hasn’t finished in the top 15 since. He’s 23rd in the points race.
His work at TPC Harding Park earlier in the week, however, starting to flick a switch. Instructor Jim Suttie made some observations about taking some of the hand action out of his swing, and in a practice round Mark Wiebe gave him a tip on his body turn.
“Today I was probably in the best rhythm I’ve been playing in several months. I feel like I’m finally going in the right direction,” Roberts said. “Obviously, that doesn’t guarantee you’re going to play well. But for me to play well, I made some putts.”
Roberts made a 20-footer on the first hole for birdie and credited a 10-foot par save on the par-4 12th as a putt that kept his momentum going.
Going into the final round, he’ll have a shot at winning the season finale for the first time. More importantly, he’s got bounce in his step for 2012.
“To be honest, I’m looking to finish the year and to get ready to start for next year,” Roberts said. “Right now, I’m fired up for next year. I’m 56 now, and I really want to see if I can make one more run.”
SAN FRANCISCO – The weather is considerably better at the outset of Round 2 at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Mark Wiebe is certainly enjoying it.
The Colorado native, a winner earlier this year at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn, made his first Champions Tour ace on the third hole at TPC Harding Park Friday. He used a 5-iron from 174 yards to make the sixth ace in tournament history (second at Harding Park). He’s 3 under for his round and back to even par.
First-round co-leaders Fred Couples and Jay Haas tee off at 12:06 p.m. local time, a pairing with plenty of intrigue. The friends will have plenty to talk about, as Couples is the captain of the U.S. Presidents Cup team and Haas is one of his two assistants (the other, John Cook, is on the course already after a disappointing opening 73).
“With what’s going on, we’ll have a good time out there,” Couples said after his first round Thursday.
From a golf standpoint, Couples could close out the best season of the year outside Tom Lehman with a win in the finale. He only has nine previous starts on the season, but has five top-10s and two wins among those, including a record seven-shot romp two weeks ago at the AT&T Championship.
“He’s spectacular. I always say he’s a golfing genius,” Haas said Thursday. “I mean, shooting 23 under at San Antonio, that course was not that easy. I don’t know how many birdies he made that week, but it seemed like every other hole he was making one.”
For Haas, a two-time Schwab Cup winner, a win at TPC Harding Park would be his first in the season finale. It would also be his second win of the season, after taking the 3M Championship in August.
Of course, Haas has had a great year in other ways – he was on hand to watch son Bill win the FedExCup with a thrilling win at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. All over Harding Park, he still hears about it from fans.
“So many people this week have been saying congratulations to me, and everybody I see from then on, seemed like they all congratulated me on Bill’s victory and things like that,” Haas said.
“But I won’t say that made any kind of difference (on the course) … I have been working hard on my game, and I want to play well at any time.”