McCarron wins Schwab Cup with help from Maggert's dramatic win in Phoenix
November 10, 2019
By Randy Youngman, PGATOUR.COM
- November 10, 2019
Scott McCarron's interview after winning season-long Charles Schwab Cup trophy
PHOENIX – Scott McCarron was standing outside the clubhouse dining room, sipping red wine with Bernhard Langer and Jerry Kelly, at the moment he won the Charles Schwab Cup as the sun was setting Sunday at Phoenix Country Club.
Two holes away, out of sight, Jeff Maggert and Retief Goosen were competing on the third hole of a sudden-death playoff in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship that would decide if McCarron would celebrate or commiserate.
His fate was in their hands, not his, because McCarron – the Schwab Cup points leader for nearly seven months -- had finished out of contention 90 minutes earlier in the climactic PGA TOUR Champions playoff event.
Because of the TOUR scoring system, McCarron could still win the Cup if Maggert won the playoff within the playoff. But Goosen would win the tournament and the Cup if he prevailed in the playoff.
Then, suddenly, McCarron said he “heard this huge roar” in the distance.
What happened? Nobody on the veranda had a clue.
Someone yelled, “He holed out!”
So McCarron, Langer and Kelly turned around and looked at The Golf Channel telecast in the clubhouse, which was a few seconds behind the live action.
That’s when Scott saw Maggert’s magical wedge shot from 124 yards take two bounces and disappear into the bottom of the cup. “That’s one of the most incredible shots I’ve ever seen and one of the most incredible shots that’s ever affected me, I guess, that I didn’t hit.”
Call it a walk-off wedge.
When the eagle had landed, there were two simultaneous celebrations. Maggert ran forward, leaped and thrust his arms in the air triumphantly after clinching his first PGA TOUR Champions victory since 2015 – and McCarron exchanged hugs and high-fives on the veranda before unleashing a primal scream to celebrate his victory in the season-long points race and the $1 million annuity that comes with it.
Even Goosen smiled broadly and came over to congratulate Maggert for the shot of the year on PGA TOUR Champions, which came moments after Goosen had hit a clutch wedge shot from a fairway bunker that settled 10 feet underneath the pin – a birdie putt he never got to try.
“Jeff Maggert, my favorite player on PGA TOUR Champions, holes out!” an exuberant McCarron yelled afterward. “I can’t believe it!”
“I think he owes me some good red wine or something,” a smiling Maggert said.
McCarron said the long wait after he had posted an even-par 71 in the final round – he tied for 27th in the 34-player field -- was excruciatingly agonizing because he had no control over his ultimate fate.
Though he had a comfortable lead in the points race at the end of the regular season, he tied for 17th in the first playoff event (Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Virginia), tied for 43rd in the second playoff event (Invesco QQQ Championship in Thousand Oaks) and struggled to get on track this week in Phoenix.
“I just couldn’t get anything going in the playoffs,” McCarron said. “I had talked to Bernhard about it and how difficult it is to close it out. He’s won five Schwab Cups and he’s never won this tournament, either.”
There were only five players who had a mathematical chance to win the Schwab Cup trophy this week – McCarron and Kelly – the top two points leaders – Langer, Colin Montgomerie and Goosen. Langer, Montgomerie and Goosen had to win the tournament and get help from the leaders to win the Cup.
And Goosen got the help he needed when McCarron and Kelly (tie for 10th at 14-under) didn’t get close to contending for the title. In fact, Goosen could have won the tournament and the Cup if he had made an 18-foot eagle putt on the final hole of regulation or made a 3-footer for birdie on the first extra hole, also the par-5 18th.
What was McCarron thinking as Goosen stood over a 3-footer that would have been worth $1.44 million ($440,000 for first place and the $1 million annuity)?
“At that point, I’m like, ‘It’s been a good year. Retief’s going to make this putt to win the tournament and win the Schwab Cup,’ “ McCarron said. "He would be the rightful winner, and he won a major this year, and he’s a great player, a Hall of Famer, and he would have deserved it. Then he misses.”
The short putt missed on the left edge, moments after Maggert had missed an 8-footer on a similar line.
“I had my chances, obviously, on the 72nd hole to win it and misread the putt,” said Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open winner who was inducted in the World Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year. “Anyway, I got in a playoff and then I had my chance again on the first playoff hole to win it and misread the putt again. So, yeah, it was disappointing.”
In retrospect, McCarron winning was the culmination of what he called “an incredible 4 ½-year journey”
Three years ago, McCarron finished fourth in the season-long Schwab Cup points standings.
Two years ago, he finished third on the points list.
Last year, he finished second.
In the wonderful world of sports, that is called trending.
And Sunday at Phoenix Country Club, that arithmetic progression led him to the summit of PGA TOUR Champions.
“I think it’s good to recognize the players that have played well all year long,” said McCarron, who won three times – the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga., on April 21; the Insperity Invitational May 5 in Texas; and the Mastercard Japan Championship on June 9 -- and also led the Tour with 14 top-10 finishes.
McCarron conceded, however, that the pressure of holding the points lead since April began to weigh on him as the playoffs arrived.
“The last three weeks have been brutal,” he said. “When you want something so bad, you put too much pressure on yourself.”
But he finally decided, as he sat in the clubhouse watching the end of the tournament with family and friends, that he was good with whatever happened.
“Sitting there watching the playoff and watching Jeff and Retief go at it when I had no control was very difficult,” he said. “I had to take a lot of deep breaths and just sit back and to know whatever happened between those two guys in their playoff, I had to be happy with it.
“I came to the realization that no matter what happened, I still had a good year.”
And now it’s a great year – the best year of his PGA TOUR Champions career, thanks to Maggert’s walk-off wedge.
“I’m sure he’ll be sending me a bottle of wine,” said Maggert, Schwab Cup champion Scott McCarron’s new favorite PGA TOUR Champions player.
Jeff Maggert's hole-out eagle approach in his 3rd playoff hole at Charles Schwab Cup