Round 3 notes: Nature Valley First Tee Open

July 08, 2012
Phil Stambaugh, Champions Tour staff

• The Cat In The Hat is back. Kirk Triplett, a rookie on the Champions Tour, shot a final-round 66, the low round of the day, to come from four strokes off the pace and win his first title on the Champions Tour at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Triplett's eagle at the par-5 2nd hole sparked him to a 5-under 31 on the front nine. He seized control of the tournament after making birdie at the par-4 11th hole and then used a key par save at the par-5 14th and a chip-in birdie at No. 16 to preserve the two-stroke victory over Mark McNulty. The win made Triplett just the sixth player to win on all three Tours, joining Ron Streck (2005), Keith Fergus (2007), Tom Lehman (2009), Gary Hallberg (2010) and Olin Browne (2011).

• Triplett won his first Champions Tour title today in his eighth start on the circuit. At 50 years, 3 months and nine days, Triplett became the youngest winner on the Champions Tour since Brad Faxon claimed the Insperity Championship last fall just over two months after turning 50. Triplett also became the second-youngest winner in tournament history, just six days older than Craig Stadler, the 2004 champion at Pebble Beach.

• Triplett became the first rookie to win on the Champions Tour this year and also the fourth first-time winner in 2012, joining Corey Pavin (Allianz Championship), Roger Chapman (Senior PGA Championship) and Joe Daley (Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship). Triplett's victory today, coupled with Joe Daley's victory last week, gives the Champions Tour back-to-back first-time winners for the first time since last fall when Mark Calcavecchia won the Boeing Classic and Jay Don Blake then won in Korea at the Songdho IBD Championship.

• Triplett became the third player to earn his first Champions Tour title at this event joining Scott Simpson (2006) and Ted Schulz (2010).

• Triplett's win today is his first in a TOUR-sponsored event since last year's triumph at the News Sentinel Open in Knoxville on the Tour. The victory in Tennessee made him the oldest player to win on that circuit at 49 years, 4 months, 25 days. Triplett's last of three wins on the PGA TOUR came at the 2006 Chrysler Classic of Tucson in late February.

• Triplett picked up 255 Charles Schwab Cup points for winning this week's Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach and moved into 13th place in the season-long standings with 643 total points. There was no change in the top-five in the current standings. After 14 events this year, Tom Lehman, the 2011 Charles Schwab Cup champion, leads with 1,522 points, 256 more points than Michael Allen.

• Triplett became the 14th different winner on the Champions Tour this year. In the 13 stroke-play events that have been played on the Champions Tour in 2012, each has had a different champion.

• Triplett became the first player to win this event with a pair of rounds in the 70s and his 66 on the final day matched the lowest final-round score by a winner in tournament history. Craig Stadler shot 66 at Pebble Beach in the inaugural event in 2004.

• Triplett earned a two-year exemption into the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

• For the second straight year, the winning score in this event was 10-under and Kirk Triplett's four-stroke comeback today was the second largest in tournament history. In 2009, Jeff Sluman came from six back on Sunday to win and last year, Sluman came from three strokes back in the final round.

Hale Irwin's final-round 69 moved him up into a T6 at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, his first top-10 effort at this event since placing second in 2007. It was also the 67-year-old Irwin's third top-10 finish of the 2012 season and this week's performance also extended his all-time record total of top-10s on the Champions Tour to 208.

Jay Haas shot a second straight 69 at Pebble Beach to move up into a T3 this week. It was Haas' seventh top-10 effort in eight appearances at this event. He finished second in 2004, 2006 and 2011.

• For the first time since last year's Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, the winner did not come from the final grouping, ending a streak of 23 consecutive Champions Tour events where the champion came from the last group on Sunday. Kirk Triplett was in the third-from-the-last grouping today, the same place Jeff Sluman was in when he rallied for victory last year on the Monterey Peninsula.

• Tyler Broach from The First Tee of Richmond & Chesterfield in Virginia and his pro partner Mark McNulty, won the pro-junior portion of the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. Broach won the competition by making birdie from 15 feet on the final hole to move out of a three-way tie. The duo finished with a better-ball score of 20-under 196 over 54 holes.

Brad Bryant's T3 at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach this year marked the second consecutive season where he has finished among the top three in this event (T2 in 2011). Bryant now has nine top-10 performances on the 2012 Champions Tour, equaling his total from the previous two seasons combined.

• This year's field scoring average at Pebble Beach was the highest since 2009 (73.923) and the cumulative stroke average at Del Monte was the highest since 2005, the first year the tournament used Del Monte as a venue. Last year's stroke average at Pebble Beach was 72.740.

• Defending champion Jeff Sluman shot a final-round 67 at Pebble Beach and finished T9. Sluman was bidding for a fourth Nature Valley First Tee Open title in five years.

• Tim Hansen/Glenn Weckerlin won the better-ball amateur competition with a total of 43-under-par 173.

Mark McNulty led all players with 16 birdies and Chien Soon Lu was the only player to make two eagles in the tournament. Kirk Triplett's 12 birdies were the fewest ever by a winner at this event. He also only made four bogeys, the fewest by a winner since 2008 when Jeff Sluman made only two during the week.

• There have been 11 eagles made at Pebble Beach this week and six eagles made at Del Monte. Chevron made an $8,000 donation for every eagle made this week through their Eagles For Education program. Each eagle will provide funding for 20 kids to participate in The First Tee program for a year.