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Lehman headlines strong field at SAS Championship

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CARY, N.C. – Tom Lehman knows a victory in the SAS Championship won’t clinch the Charles Schwab Cup.

It sure would help.

Lehman, a three-time winner this year, has a 451-point lead over Mark Calcavecchia in the season-long race for the Champions Tour’s Schwab Cup and its $1 million payout.

“The Schwab Cup is really important, but you can’t really win the Schwab Cup today,” the 52-year-old Lehman said. “Although, I’m in a position where I could probably come pretty close after three weeks’ time if I have a three good weeks. So I’m not oblivious. I know what’s at stake.”

Both players will have to contend with one of the strongest fields to play the Prestonwood course in suburban Raleigh. Twenty players, including Fred Couples, with at least one major victory on the PGA Tour are entered in the tournament that starts Friday.

Calcavecchia won the Boeing Classic on Aug. 28 in Snoqualmie, Wash., for his first Champions Tour title. In 18 tournaments this year, he has finished outside the top 15 just twice.

“I’ve had very few bad weeks,” the 51-year-old Calcavecchia said. “And I’ve been putting well the last three or four months.”

Lehman is tied for the tour victory lead with John Cook.

“I haven’t won in a while, but I played some pretty solid golf throughout the summer and early fall, so my game’s in a pretty good place,” Lehman said.

There are four events left before the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship in San Francisco. Calcavecchia said he knows it’s an uphill battle, but with double Cup points on the line in the final event, he could make it interesting.

“As good as (Lehman) is, and as consistent as he is, I don’t see him finishing outside the top 30,” Calcavecchia said. “I’ve probably got to win two out of the last four events to have a chance to win it.”

Couples is making his seventh Champions Tour start of the year. He won the Senior Players Championship on Aug. 21 at Westchester for his first senior major title.

Russ Cochran won last year, beating 2009 winner Tom Pernice Jr. by two strokes.