Lehman wins finale, secures Charles Schwab Cup repeat
Scottsdale, AZ – Tom Lehman became the first-ever back-to- back Charles Schwab Cup winner on Sunday when he fired a 5-under 65 to secure a 6-stroke victory over Jay Haas at the Champions Tour finale.
Lehman entered the regular season-ending event 211 points behind leader Bernhard Langer in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup and its $1 million annuity.
Several scenarios existed for a Lehman repeat, but he chose the most obvious one -- an outright win at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
After storming his way to the lead with a Champions Tour personal-best 62 on Saturday, Lehman maintained the advantage through the final round and birdied four of his last five holes to finish at 22-under-par 258 for his second tour victory of the season.
"To have everybody here and to win this in my hometown means a lot," Lehman, who resides in Scottsdale, said during the Cup presentation.
Haas, who on Friday carded a career-best and course-record 60, shot 69 on Sunday to finish alone in second place at 16-under.
Defending champion and first-round leader Jay Don Blake tallied a 66 for a third-place finish at 14-under, while Fred Funk (65) and Fred Couples (73) tied for fourth at 13-under.
Couples, playing for the first time since withdrawing from the Boeing Classic in late August due to a balky back, began Sunday one stroke off Lehman's pace, but carded four bogeys during the final round.
Langer finished alone in sixth place at 11-under. The German saved his best round of the event for last, tallying five birdies without a bogey en route to a 65, but it wasn't enough to overtake Lehman.
Adding significance to Lehman's victory is the dire condition of his friend and longtime swing coach Jim Flick, who was recently diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.
The duo formed their bond years ago at this weekend's host Desert Mountain Club.
"The last four days have been somewhat difficult in a way and I've been trying to fight back tears at times because Jim Flick and I spent so much time out here," said Lehman. "We would come up here and play. He'd walk the course with me and we worked on my game. Hopefully he was able to watch today."
Flick likely would have been proud of Lehman's gritty performance on the par-4 14th, which began with an errant shot onto the lip of a bunker. With his back foot in the sand, Lehman sent his second shot onto the green, where he rolled home a 12-foot downhill putt to initiate a string of three consecutive birdies.
After a par on No. 17, Lehman nearly eagled the last before wrapping up his historic win with a short birdie tap-in.
NOTES: Lehman secured the seventh Champions Tour victory of his career. His other win this season came at the Regions Tradition in June ... Langer earned the Champions Tour money title ... The top 30 players were in the field for the event ... Besides Lehman and Langer, only Roger Chapman was eligible to secure the Charles Schwab Cup. He finished in 29th place at 11- over.