Day 2 review: Raphael repeat champs, Clampett's revival

Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Mark James and Des Smyth successfully defended their Raphael Division title on Saturday.
April 21, 2012
John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Fireworks abounded Saturday in the final round of Raphael Division play at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf. The winners had the final one.


After watching his approach to the par-4 18th hole roll off the rear of the green, Mark James holed a 45-foot putt back up the surface to secure a second consecutive title with partner Des Smyth.

The team was staring at a playoff with Mark McCumber/Wayne Grady and Steve Jones/Denis Watson, after both teams shot 11-under 61s with their own great moments.

McCumber/Grady shot 27 on the front in the better-ball format at Savannah Harbor Golf Resort (seven birdies, one eagle, one par), while Jones/Watson finished birdie-eagle to get into a then-tie for the lead.

Jones holed out from the rough off the 18th fairway to create the momentary three-way logjam at 18 under.

"I'm just amazed how they all shot so low because we thought they were playing fantastic," Smyth said. "It just shows the standard of the guys, especially in the four-ball. It lends itself to this type of play."

The birdiefest came to a head as the Englishman (James) and Irishman (Smyth) came to 18, and they were staring at a possible playoff that didn't sound too inviting.

"You don't ever want to be in a three-way playoff," James said. "Two-way playoff, certainly individual play in a tournament, you can look the other guy in the eye and sort of play him out sometimes, you know. But anything can happen in a three-way playoff in four-ball, the sky's the limit."

James put an end to that with a winning putt that moved them to 19 under -- a putt from a spot where most players would likely chip.

"At this stage of the season, usually I chip very poorly ... that's embarrassing in front of the grandstands," James said. "It seemed a better bet."

A tournament winner, as it turned out.

CHANGE OF PLANS: At the start of the week, Bobby Clampett figured he'd spend the weekend in the broadcast tower at Liberty Mutual.

Now he's on the course with a chance to win it.

Clampett, the first alternate who got in the field when Tom Watson withdrew right arm injury, is playing with Andy North and in a tie for second, one shot back after a Saturday 62.


The round was punctuated by an eagle at 18, when Clampett flew a 4-hybrid from 191 yards directly into the hole -- and had no idea how good the shot was.

"I heard it hit the flagstick on the fly, thought 'gosh, who knows where that went,'" Clampett said. "We thought, maybe it's on the green, reasonable putt at birdie. Only when I got up to the green and couldn't find it anywhere, did I know."

This week is another step in a career revival for Clampett, who piled up major amateur titles from 1978-80 and won the PGA TOUR's Southern Open in 1982. But in 1991 he joined CBS Sports' golf broadcast team, and for the next two decades spent more time behind a microphone than competing.

When he turned 50 -- he turns 52 on Sunday -- he decided to revive his playing career.

"It's a big process for me, getting back into playing full-time competitive golf again," Clampett said. "I broadcasted for 20 years, I fell pretty far back on the opportunity to have any kind of exempt status out here. I have to go out and earn it."

Clampett got his status for Savannah based on being in the top 30 on this year's money list, as he has two top-10 finishes in four starts. Should he and North win on Sunday, status would no longer be a problem.

MO-TOWN: In the better-ball format, every team talks about momentum. With it, you can shoot under 30 for nine holes and turn in some of the gaudy scores seen through two rounds in Savannah.

Without it, you're not going to make a move on leaderboards where seemingly everyone else is making birdies in bunches.

Brad Faxon and Jeff Sluman shot 64 Saturday, getting to 18 under and one shot back of the lead, but finishing with three birdies over the last 10 holes and three consecutive pars from Nos. 16-18 made it feel like a stagnant day after Friday's 62.

"We weren't as sharp," Faxon said. "It's making birdies on opposite holes that makes a difference. You don't both have to play great, you have to make birdies on opposite holes.

"We had a bunch of holes where we made pars in a row, you're losing a little there."

Faxon/Sluman, a first-year partnership at Liberty Mutual, will start the final round in the third-to-last group, alongside Jay Haas and Fred Couples.

"Anything can happen," Faxon said. "You want to get going early and keep that momentum."