By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Even during the four-round marathon that is the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, it’s hard to resist the projections and permutations that play out as the Schwab Cup race nears its end.
Through 14 holes in the opening round at Desert Mountain’s Cochise Course, Bernhard Langer was opening the door for Tom Lehman.
Langer leads the year-long race by 211 points over Lehman, meaning Lehman needs a strong finish and Langer a poor one. And midway through the back nine in Round 1, Langer was stuck at 1 over while Lehman was three shots ahead at 2 under.
But Langer, the 2010 Schwab Cup champion, didn’t build this year’s Schwab Cup cushion without salvaging some rounds. He did it again on Thursday, birdieing three of the last four holes to finish in red figures at 1 under, one shot behind Lehman in their marquee pairing.
“I was very happy with my finish,” Langer said. “I played some good golf coming in.”
Langer is tied for 14th in the event, while Lehman is T11. That’s not enough of a gap for Lehman, the defending Schwab Cup champion, to overtake Langer.
Roger Chapman, the other man who figures into the Schwab Cup scenarios, is also T14 after a 1-under 69. He has to win the tournament to have a shot at the $1 million payout.
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gary Hallberg was at a crossroads in his career two years ago.
He had won in 2010 on the Champions Tour, at the Ensure Classic at Rock Barn, but two years later needed to go to q-school to gain status on the 50-and-over circuit.
That q-school was at TPC Scottsdale, and he finished second. Two years later, some 10 miles north, he’s at Desert Mountain in the midst of his most consistent season and with a game capable of winning.
Hallberg shot 65 on Thursday in the first round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, one shot back of leader Jay Don Blake.
“It was just a super day. Drove it real well, had lots of birdies chances all day long,” said Hallberg, who had six birdies and one bogey. “It just felt like one of those rounds that I was supposed to get. You don’t get those very often. You say, ‘it should have been three better or four worse’ – but this was how I played.”
Hallberg – the first four-time, first-team All-American college golfer, at Wake Forest -- is a swing tinkerer, one to always be working on something. He’s got a good wingman in noted teacher Mike McGetrick as his caddie to bounce ideas with, but right now McGetrick may be better served to tell Hallberg to lay off the extracurricular swing activity.
“I want to go, ‘hey Mike, what do you think about this?’ Hallberg said. “He’s going to nip it in the bud.”
Hallberg hasn’t won this year but has six top 10s and is assured a spot on Tour next year by virtue of his spot on the money list (20th coming into the season finale). The crossroads are behind him.
Fuzzy Zoeller is still looking for his first win of the season on the Champions Tour. Saturday, he settled for another type of victory.
Ed Carpenter Racing, whose primary sponsor is Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, picked up its first win, capturing the MAVTV 500 in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Carpenter, who started the race in the No. 5 spot, made a last-lap pass at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for the victory.
Here’s a shot of Zoeller’s winning car:
This week, the Champions Tour is in Hawaii for the inaugural Pacific Links Hawaii Championship. In honor of the new event, here’s a look at the top 10 shots in Champions Tour history (excluding majors). Discuss below.
Check out the top 10 shots of all time on the Champions Tour (excluding majors), featuring players like Chi Chi Rodriguez, Fuzzy Zoeller, Lee Trevino, Hale Irwin and Jack Nicklaus.