Notebook: Lehman takes control in Schwab Cup race

November 03, 2012
Colin Murray, Champions Tour staff

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tom Lehman took the lead Saturday in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. A victory at Desert Mountain would net Lehman not just his seventh Champions Tour title, but also his second consecutive Schwab Cup.

Here's a chart of where the three players in contention for the 2012 Charles Schwab Cup stand after the first 54 holes. On Sunday, the player with the most Schwab Cup points will earn a $1 million payout.

Schwab Cup projections
Player Ranking/Points Score/Position Projected finish/Total
Bernhard Langer 1st/2,413 points 204/-6/T10 2nd/2,553
Tom Lehman 2nd/2,202 points 193/-17/1st 1st/3,082
Roger Chapman 3rd/1,756 points 213/+3/T27 4th/1,807

If the Charles Schwab Cup Championship ended today, here's the projected final 2012 money totals:

Projeced money
Player Current money total/rank Projected rank/money
Bernhard Langer $2,023,296/1st 1st/$2,093,296
Tom Lehman $1,616,488/2nd 2nd/$1,982,575
Michael Allen $1,542,575/3rd 3rd/1,686,488

• Scottsdale resident Tom Lehman carded an 8-under 62 in the third round to lead the Charles Schwab Cup Championship by one shot after 54 holes over Fred Couples and two shots over 36-hole leader Jay Haas. The 62 is Lehman's career-low round on the Champions Tour, bettering his second-round 63 by one shot. Prior to this week, Lehman had posted a trio of 64s on the Champions Tour.

• Lehman's low round on the PGA TOUR was also 62 in the second round of the 2001 Invensys Classic of Las Vegas and the first round of the 2005 Buick Invitational.

• Lehman's consecutive rounds of 63-62 Friday and Saturday (-15) equal the second-best consecutive rounds in Champions Tour history, trailing only Bruce Fleisher's 60-64 (124, 16 under) in the opening rounds at the 2002 RJR Championship.

• Lehman's 54-hole total of 17-under 193 is the second-lowest in relation to par in Charles Schwab Cup Championship history since the event changed to a 72-hole format in 1994. John Cook led after 54 holes at 19-under 197 in 2009 at the par-72 Sonoma Golf Club.

• With a victory Sunday, Lehman would become the first player to win the season-long Charles Schwab Cup in consecutive years. Four players have won the Charles Schwab Cup more than once (Hale Irwin -- 2002 & 2004, Tom Watson -- 2003 & 2005, Jay Haas 2006 & 2008 and Loren Roberts -- 2007 & 2009). Lehman would also join Tom Watson (2005) as the only player to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and the Charles Schwab Cup in the same year.

• Lehman enters the final round in search of his seventh victory on the Champions Tour. Three of his victories have come in 72-hole events at the 2010 Senior PGA Championship and the 2011 and 2012 Regions Tradition. Lehman shared the 54-hole lead (Jay Don Blake) at the 2010 Senior PGA Championship, was two back after 54 holes at the 2011 Regions Tradition and enjoyed a two-shot lead after 54 holes at the 2012 Regions Tradition.

• A long-time Scottsdale, Ariz. resident, Lehman is looking for his first victory in Arizona since he claimed the 2000 Phoenix Open on the PGA TOUR.

Fred Couples equaled his career-low round on the Champions Tour with an 8-under 62 in the third round. He previously shot 62 (10-under) in the final round of the 2010 Cap Cana Championship and the second round (10-under) of the 2011 AT&T Championship. He went on to win both the 2010 Cap Cana Championship and the 2011 AT&T Championship. His career-low round on the PGA TOUR was a 9-under 62 in the second round of the 1990 Nissan Los Angeles Open.

Fred Couples' 8-under 62 in the third round was highlighted by eagles at both the 569-yard par-5 No. 8 and the 548-yard par-5 No. 15. It marks the fourth time in his Champions Tour career Couples has recorded two eagles in the same round and the first since the second round of the 2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

• Two of Fred Couples' eight Champions Tour victories have occurred in 72-hole tournaments, including earlier this year at the Senior Open Championship. He also won the 2011 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. Couples was one-shot behind Bernhard Langer after 54 holes at the Senior Open Championship and enjoyed a one-shot lead entering the final round of the 2011 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship.

• Since the inaugural year of the Champions Tour in 1980, only once has there not been a player to win three or more times in a season (1980). Entering the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, seven players have won twice in 2012 (Bernhard Langer, Roger Chapman, Michael Allen, Fred Couples, Fred Funk, David Frost and Willie Wood). Entering the final round, Fred Couples (-16/2nd) has the best shot to post his third victory of the season.

Jay Haas, who became the eighth player in Champions Tour history to post a 60 when he shot 10 under in the second round, carded a 1-under 69 in the third round. Of the previous seven players to shoot 60, five went on to victory (Tom Purtzer/2004 Toshiba Classic, Nick Price/2011 Toshiba Classic, Isao Aoki/1997 Emerald Coast Classic, Bruce Fleisher/2002 RJR Championship and Jim Thorpe/2003 Long Island Classic) and five broke 70 in the round following their 60. Only Tom Purtzer (71-R2) at the 2004 Toshiba Classic and Craig Stadler (70-R3) at the 2005 Blue Angels Classic failed to break 70 the round following their 60. Walter Morgan (2002 AT&T Canada Senior Open) and Stadler (2005 Blue Angels Classic) failed to go on to victory after posting 60.

• Haas had only posted sub-63 rounds on two previous occasions on either the Champions Tour or PGA TOUR. He carded a 62 in the first round of the 2009 Greater Hickory Classic and followed it with a 71 en route to winning. He followed a 61 in the second round of the 2003 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic with a third-round 67 en route to a runner-up finish.

• Haas, who won earlier this year at the Principal Charity Classic in June, has posted multiple victories in five of his eight full seasons on the Champions Tour:

Year Starts Victories
2005 10 2
2006 21 4
2007 27 4
2008 21 2
2009 21 2
2010 23 0
2011 21 1
2012 20 1

• Of Haas' 16 victories on the Champions Tour entering this week, only three have come in 72-hole tournaments. Haas won the Senior PGA Championship in 2006 and 2008 and the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship in 2009. On all three previous occasions Haas came from behind to win. He overcame a four-shot deficit at the 2006 Senior PGA Championship, a one-shot deficit at the 2008 Senior PGA Championship and a five-shot deficit at the 2009 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship.

• Haas has made just one bogey through the first 36 holes of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, but made three in Saturday's third round at Nos. 3, 11 and 16.

Stats Summary of the Leaders
Player Fairways Hit Greens/Regulation Putts/Round Driving Distance
Tom Lehman (-17) 29/39-74.4% (T3) 45/54-83.3% (3rd) 28.7 (T9) 290.8 (12)
Fred Couples (-16) 21/39-53.8% (27th) 46/54-85.2% (T1) 28.3 (T6) 306.7 (1)
Jay Haas (-15) 23/39 -- 59.0% (T21) 44/54-81.5% (T4) 28.0 (T4) 291.8 (11)

• Since the Charles Schwab Cup Championship became a 72-hole event in 1994, nine of the previous 18 54-hole leaders/co-leaders at this event have gone on to win, most recently Jay Don Blake last year.

Mike Hill (1990-1991) and John Cook (2009-2010) are the only players to successfully defend at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Defending champion Jay Don Blake carded a 5-under 65 in the third round and is 10 under, seven shots off the pace.

• Here's how the seven players in the field with ties to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area stand after Round 3:

Tom Lehman (Scottsdale, 2000 Phoenix Open winner) -- 193 (1st) Mark Calcavecchia (3-time Waste Management Phoenix Open winner) -- 202 (T6) Michael Allen (Scottsdale) -- 204 (T10) Kenny Perry -- (2009 FBR Open winner) -- 206 (T16) Joe Daley -- (Scottsdale) -- 208 (T19) Kirk Triplett (Scottsdale) -- 209 (T21) Dan Forsman (Arizona State) -- 220 (30th)

Russ Cochran carded nine birdies en route to a 6-under 64 in the third round and improved 11 positions from a T16 to solo 5th.

• With perfect scoring conditions again on Saturday at the par-70 Cochise Course at Desert Mountain Club, the field averaged 68.833 (-1.167). Four eagles were made on Saturday with two by Fred Couples. The par-5 No. 8 was the easiest hole on Saturday playing to a stroke average of 4.333 (-0.667).