Kevin Sutherland captured his first title in his 78th start on the Champions Tour and it gave him the Charles Schwab Cup.
The 53-year-old Sutherland, from Sacramento and Fresno State, made a birdie on the 16th hole that made the difference in a one-stroke victory over Lee Janzen and Vijay Singh of Fiji in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club.
“It is amazing,” said Sutherland, who claimed his only victory on the PGA Tour in the 2002 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. “And I know the list of champions on here is incredible, too. I’m the luckiest man in the world. Every time I come out here and play I can’t believe they let me do this.
“I hit the ball really well today. I played fantastic. I drove it great. I tweaked my driver and hit it great this week.”
Sutherland, who posted a bogey-free 66 and had a 54-hole total of 15-under 198, collected the winning purse of $440,00 and the $1-million bonus that goes to the winner of the Charles Schwab Cup that Bernhard Langer of Germany won the last three years and four times overall.
Singh, who still plays on the PGA Tour at times, birdied four of his last six holes for a 66, while Janzen finished with a birdie for a 68, but had costly bogeys on the 13th and 16th holes.
John Daly carded a 65 to wind up two shots back in a tie for fourth with David Frost of South Africa and David Toms, who both had 67s, while Brandt Jobe of UCLA totaled 67 to tie finish another stroke behind in a tie for seventh with Billy Mayfair, who had a 69.
Defending champion Paul Goydos of Coto de Caza and Long Beach State, posted a 72 and was four down in a tie for ninth with Scott McCarron of Sacramento and UCLA, who had a 68, and Wes Short Jr., who came in at 64.
Langer, who won seven times this season including the first two playoff events and will be the Champions Tour’s Player of the Year, closed with a 64 to tie for 12th, but did win the Charles Schwab Cup again because the points are shuffled so anyone in the field of the finale can take the title.
“I think it needs adjusting,” Langer said of the system. “I do, personally, because you have somebody win the whole thing that hasn’t won a tournament all year and I’m not sure that’s ideal. But I was on the (PGA Tour Champions policy) board. We said we’re going to try this out. I’m not sure if it’s perfect. It’s maybe like the FedExCup. They had to adjust it two or three times to make it interesting, but also make it a little fair.
“It was never meant to be fair. It was meant to be playoffs. Everybody in the field was given a chance to win. Is it fair? No, it’s not, but that’s how it is right now. We might revisit it in the future.”
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