BLAINE, Minn. – Midway through his final round, the only question was if David Frost could set a 3M Championship scoring record.
He did so with his final stroke.
Frost made a 25-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole to finish an 11-under 61 on Sunday and win the title in record-setting fashion.
“The hole got in the way, I guess, but it was really a nice way to cap it off,” he said.
It is the first career Champions Tour win for Frost, whose 25-under 191 was two shots better than the previous tournament scoring record set by R.W. Eaks in 2008. His final-round score beat by one the tournament’s previous lowest round set by Dana Quigley in 2008.
Frost also tied the tour scoring record for a 54-hole tournament. His 191 total tied Bruce Fleisher’s mark at the 2002 Vantage Championship and matched by Loren Roberts at the 2006 MasterCard Championship at Hualalai and Bernhard Langer at the 2007 Administaff Small Business Classic. Roberts and Langer were 25 under; Fleisher was 19 under on a par-70 course.
“Twenty-five under? That’s ridiculous. This course ain’t that easy,” said Mark Calcavecchia, who was tied with Frost for the 36-hole lead, but finished five shots behind in second after a 4 under 68 at the TPC Twin Cities.
Frost shot a 7-under 29 on the front side to pull away from the field. He birdied the first two holes and eagled the par-5 third, knocking a 3-wood from 255 yards to about 3 feet from the hole.
“I would say he was 110 percent your deserved winner,” said Calcavecchia, dripping in sweat after a round played in hot and humid conditions with little wind. The heat index was at or above 100 degrees for much of the round.
After birdies at Nos. 6 and 7, Frost made an 8-footer on the ninth hole, the toughest on the course, to get to minus-21. He also birdied the first two holes on the back nine.
Calcavecchia birdied No. 3 but bogeyed the next two holes to fall five shots back.
That left Frost feeling pretty confident.
“I thought it was hard for him to have his momentum swing the other way, and mine swing the other way,” Frost said.
For Calcavecchia, who battled clammy hands and had the club fall out of his hands three times, the final 12 holes were about grinding it out for a high finish. “I’m super thrilled with second,” he said.
He wasn’t alone in being satisfied with a spot up near top of leaderboard.
“The rest of us were playing for second today,” said Nick Price, who shot a 64 and tied Tommy Armour III (65) and David Peoples (66) for third, eight shots behind.
Frost last won on the PGA Tour at the 1997 MasterCard Colonial when his son was with him. This weekend Frost used his son’s putter – one he’d used before – and he switched to a driver that wasn’t as stiff. He didn’t make a bogey all week, hitting 50 of 54 greens in regulation.
“I suppose I tinker with my a game a bit too much,” said Frost, who twice finished second in his 20-event Champions Tour career. He has six top-10s this year, but was 62nd at last week’s U.S. Senior Open, including a final round 80.
Known as one of the game’s better putters, Frost needed just 84 putts in the tournament. He did not three-putt a green.
“It’s about the feel. You just want to roll the ball as softly as you can and hopefully the hole gets in the way,” he said. “Some weeks it jells and some weeks it doesn’t. When it doesn’t jell you can’t force it in. I just kept staying as loose as I could on the greens this week.”
Off for the previous five weeks, Price, who is playing with a broken little toe on his right foot, was thrilled with his performance.
“I could have gone really low today, I hit the ball really super all day,” he said. “There’s obviously a little bit of rust here, but today on the back nine I played about as well as I’ve played any part of this year.
Jeff Sluman (67) and Kirk Hanefeld (68) tied for sixth, nine shots back, one better that Olin Browne (65) and John Cook (69).
Battling the flu, defending champion Bernhard Langer shot 71 in the final round to finish at 8 under. No champion has defended his title in the event’s 16-year history.
Fred Funk, who finished at 9 under, aced the 186-yard fourth hole with a 5-iron.