Lehman looking to make history at Cup

By Associated PressNovember 2, 2011, 11:12 pm

SAN FRANCISCO – Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman’s right knee gave him so much trouble last year that several close friends suggested he undergo replacement surgery.

He resisted, went skiing instead and now stands on the cusp of history on the Champions Tour.

Lehman, 382 points ahead of Mark Calcavecchia entering the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, can wrap up the points race and become the first player to earn player of the year honors on the PGA, Nationwide and Champions tours with a strong finish at TPC Harding Park.

Not a bad spot to be, particularly for someone who nearly gave up on his career more than 20 years ago before it even got off the ground.

“All I know is if Tom Lehman plays the way he’s capable of playing, he’s going to be a happy guy on Sunday win or lose,” Lehman said. “I can’t control what everybody else might do but I can control what I do. Any time you start thinking about the result before you get on the playing field you’re in big trouble.”

Lehman, a three-time winner this year, didn’t need results to know his sore knee needed a break after limping through 14 events on the Champions Tour in 2010.

Fred Funk, who had knee replacement surgery in 2009, was among those who told Lehman to consider having a similar procedure.

Instead, Lehman took his family on a four-day ski trip to Colorado, and at some point, the pain in his knee went away.

“That’s the truth, I’m not exaggerating one bit,” Lehman said. “My knee was in so much pain and they were talking replacement. So I went skiing. When I left that ski resort and got back home my knee felt great.”

Peter Senior, John Cook and Russ Cochran also are in contention for the season title and $1 million annuity, with points doubled for the 50-and-over tour’s final stop.

History is definitely on Lehman’s side.

In the past 10 seasons, the points leader heading into the final event - limited to the top 30 on the money list - has hung on to win the overall title nine times. Tom Watson was the lone exception when he won the Schwab Cup tournament and overtook Dana Quigley for the points championship.

Lehman was the player of the year on the Nationwide Tour - then known as the Hogan Tour - in 1991, one year after nearly stepping away from the game for good. Five years later, he earned the same honor on the PGA Tour.

Now Lehman’s going for the hat trick.

“There is a big asterisk with that, being that I’m one of the first generation of guys that even has a chance to do that,” Lehman said. “It’ll happen (again) in the future.”

He’s not the only one trying to get in the record books this weekend.

Cook has won this tournament the past two years and can join Jim Thorpe as the only three-time winners. If he can repeat and Lehman finishes in a two-way tie for fifth place or worse - which is exactly what happened in 2010 - Cook can also win the overall title.

Calcavecchia, who has 14 top-10 finishes this season and was second at the AT&T Championship on Oct. 16, has the best chance at overtaking Lehman in one of the handful of scenarios that could play out over the weekend

“If I have a chance to win the tournament heading into Sunday, then I’ll pay attention to what Tom’s doing,” Calcavecchia said. “Basically I’ve got to win to have any chance. After that it really doesn’t matter.”

Calcavecchia will have to do better than he did here last year when he tied for last place, 23 shots behind Cook.

That was in his first year on the Champions circuit when Calcavecchia, then 50, was also playing regularly on the PGA Tour. Now that he’s spending more time with the seniors, the results have been impressive.

Not even a sore back - the result of a gardening mishap this week - could break Calcavecchia’s mood.

“I was doing great on it until a chunk of sod would not come out,” Calcavecchia said. “I went to give it the heave-ho up and then my back went heave-ho. It felt like something just snapped. But it’s all right.”

 

Watch: Fleetwood gets emotional with family after Race to Dubai win

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 19, 2017, 5:30 pm

Tommy Fleetwood took home the season-long Race to Dubai title on Sunday after a T-21 finish at the DP World Tour Championship.

He was, understandably, emotional after learning his fate while sitting with his wife and baby following a career year in which he won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the French Open and finished fourth at the U.S. Open.

Luckily for us, cameras were rolling:

Matsuyama after Koepka rout: 'Huge gap between us'

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 4:22 pm

Hideki Matsuyama offered a blunt assessment after finishing 10 shots behind Brooks Koepka at the Japan Tour's Dunlop Phoenix event.

Koepka waxed the field en route to successfully defending his title in Japan, shooting a 20-under par total that left him nine shots clear of a runner-up group that included PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele. Koepka's score was one shot off the tournament record, and his margin for victory eclipsed Tiger Woods' eight-shot romp in 2004.

Matsuyama appeared set to make a final-round charge after a birdie on No. 2 was followed by an ace on the par-3 third hole. But he played the next eight holes in 3 over and eventually finished alone in fifth place following a 2-under 69. Afterwards, he stacked his game up against that of Koepka in a telling comment to the Japan Times.

"I feel there's a huge gap between us," Matsuyama said.

The Japanese phenom entered the week ranked No. 4 in the world, though he will be passed in the next rankings by Jon Rahm following the Spaniard's win in Dubai. Matsuyama won twice this year on the PGA Tour, including the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but he has largely struggled since missing out on a maiden major title at the PGA Championship, where he tied for fifth.

Matsuyama was a runner-up to Koepka at the U.S. Open earlier this summer, and the 25-year-old seems headed back to the drawing board before defending his title at the Hero World Challenge in two weeks.

"I don't know whether it's a lack of practice or whether I lack the strength to keep playing well," Matsuyama said. "It seems there are many issues to address."

McCormick to caddie for Spieth at Aussie Open

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 2:21 pm

When Jordan Spieth returns next week to defend his title at the Australian Open, he will do so without his regular caddie on the bag.

Spieth and Michael Greller have combined to win 14 tournaments and three majors, including three events in 2017. But Greller's wife, Ellie, gave birth to the couple's first child on Oct. 13, and according to a report from the Australian Herald Sun he will not make the intercontinental trip to Sydney, where Spieth will look to win for the third time in the last four years.

Instead, Spieth will have longtime swing coach and native Aussie Cameron McCormick on the bag at The Australian Golf Club. McCormick, who won PGA Teacher of the Year in 2015, is originally from Melbourne but now lives in Texas and has taught Spieth since he was a rising star among the junior golf ranks in Dallas.

While Greller has missed rounds before, this will be the first time as a pro that Spieth has used a different caddie for an entire event. Greller was sidelined with an injury last year in Singapore when Spieth's agent, Jay Danzi, took the bag, and trainer Damon Goddard has subbed in twice when Greller was sick, including this year at the Dean & DeLuca Invitational.

Spieth's torrid 2015 season traced back to his win at The Australian in 2014, and he returned to Oz last year where he won a playoff at Royal Sydney over Cameron Smith and Ashley Hall.

Rahm wins finale, Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai

By Will GrayNovember 19, 2017, 1:42 pm

Jon Rahm captured the final tournament on the European Tour calendar, a result that helped Tommy Fleetwood take home the season-long Race to Dubai title.

Rahm shot a final-round 67 to finish two shots clear of Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Shane Lowry at the DP World Tour Championship. It's the second European Tour win of the year for the Spaniard, who also captured the Irish Open and won on the PGA Tour in January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

"I could not be more proud of what I've done this week," Rahm told reporters. "Having the weekend that I've had, actually shooting 12 under on the last 36 holes, bogey-free round today, it's really special."

But the key finish came from Justin Rose, who held the 54-hole lead in Dubai but dropped back into a tie for fourth after closing with a 70. Rose entered the week as one of only three players who could win the Race to Dubai, along with Sergio Garcia and Fleetwood, who started with a lead of around 250,000 Euros.


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With Fleetwood in the middle of the tournament pack, ultimately tying for 21st after a final-round 74, the door was open for Rose to capture the title thanks to a late charge despite playing in half the events that Fleetwood did. Rose captured both the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open, and was one round away from a two-trophy photo shoot in Dubai.

Instead, his T-4 finish meant he came up just short, as Fleetwood won the season-long race by 58,821 Euros.

The title caps a remarkable season for Fleetwood, who won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship as well as the French Open to go along with a pair of runner-up finishes and a fourth-place showing at the U.S. Open.

"I find it amazing, the season starts in November, December and you get to here and you're watching the last shot of the season to decide who wins the Race to Dubai," Fleetwood said at the trophy ceremony. "But yeah, very special and something we didn't really aim for at the start of the year, but it's happened."