Lehman headlines field at SAS Championship
Thursday, September 29, 2011
CARY, N.C. — Tom Lehman knows a victory at the SAS Championship this weekend won’t clinch the Charles Schwab Cup.
It sure would help.
Lehman arrived at Prestonwood Country Club with 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,” said the 52-year-old Lehman. “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 golfers will have to contend with one of the stronger fields to play the course in suburban Raleigh. Twenty players with at least one major victory on the PGA Tour are playing the SAS, which starts Friday.
Russ Cochran also is back to defend his title. Cochran held off 2009 winner Tom Pernice Jr. for a two-shot victory last year.
Calcavecchia has been playing well this year, capping his 12th straight Top 15 finish two weeks ago at the Songdo IBD Championship in Korea. In his 18 Champions Tour events, Calcavecchia 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 one of two golfers with three wins this year on the over-50 tour. He also has seven other Top 10 finishes. John Cook also has won three times during this season, as well as two runner-up finishes in the past month.
“The race for the Charles Schwab Cup is still up for grabs,” Lehman said. “I’ve got a bit of a lead, which is nice.
“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.”
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.”
The SAS field also includes seven World Golf Hall of Fame players, and 10 others with PGA Tour victories who are making their debuts at the SAS, including Kenny Perry and Corey Pavin.