As calendars changed from October to November and the brilliant leaves of autumn fell to the ground, some of the world’s best golfers were still busy pursuing trophies and pay checks all over the globe. The most notable domestic tournament took place in cloudy and mild San Francisco, where the game’s best players over the age of 50 gathered for the conclusion of the Champions Tour 2011 season.
The competitive and entertaining run was capped off by the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, which unfolded at the lovely TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California. As can be expected in a tournament tightly contested by savvy professionals that have made a living playing golf for several decades, course management was in full effect, as many players let their wisdom and knowledge of the course supplant their slight erosion of power and flexibility over the years.
Wily veteran Jay Don Blake took first place after finishing all four rounds in 276 strokes, which equated to eight strokes under par. After building a sizable lead over the course of the first three rounds, Blake shot even par in a final round that featured slick greens and windy conditions. Mark Calcavecchia fired a final round 69 to gain two strokes on Blake, but it was only enough to put him in a 2nd place tie with Loren Roberts, Michael Allen and Jay Haas.
Much like the PGA Tour, the Champions Tour wraps up with a crowning of the overall points champion, and this year’s Charles Schwab Cup went to Tom Lehman. Lehman entered the tournament with a substantial points lead over Calcavecchia and was able to close out the deal with a one-over-par 72, which netted him the overall title and a payday of 1 million dollars. Lehman snapped the 3-year Champions Tour reign of Germany’s Bernhard Langer and forever etched his name into the history of the senior tour.
Keeping on the subject on Germans, Deutschland’s own Martin Kaymer caught fire halfway through the final round of the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, and won the internationally prestigious tournament in dramatic fashion. After six pars on the first six holes, Kaymer went into a zone and rolled in 9 birdies over the final 12 holes. As a field of well known professionals battled each other tooth and nail over the course of the final day, Kaymer whizzed past the group and found himself atop the leaderboard on the final tee. The amazing streak allowed him to makeup five strokes on the leaders over the span of about two hours, something that is rarely seen on Sunday anywhere in the golfing world.
Fredrik Jacobson was in an excellent position to once again seize victory on the European Tour, but Kaymer’s record breaking round knocked him off of center stage and turned him into another captivated observer. Jacobson arrived at the 18th tee in second place, three strokes behind Kaymer, who was sipping refreshments in the clubhouse and could only be tied with an albatross on the par-5 finishing hole. After processing the situation, Jacobson played the 18th conservatively, ensuring par and sole possession of 2nd place.