PHOENIX — It had been four years since Jeff Maggert visited the winner’s circle, and even he didn’t expect to end that drought in such dramatic fashion.
With darkness closing in, Maggert holed a wedge shot from 124 yards out on the third hole of a playoff with Retief Goosen to capture the title in the Charles Schwab Cup on Sunday at Phoenix Country Club.
By doing so, it handed Scott McCarron the Schwab Cup season championship, denying Goosen the opportunity to claim both awards in his rookie season on the PGA Tour Champions.
SCORES: Charles Schwab Cup leaderboard
“I’ve seen it happen, but I never thought it would happen to me,” Maggert said. “I’m tickled to death.”
Maggert and Goosen each finished at 21-under 263, staging a dramatic battle down the stretch as each birdied the final hole to force the playoff.
Woody Austin finished 2 shots behind after a solid round of 64 while Colin Montgomerie, Bernhard Langer, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Joe Durant tied for fourth, 5 shots behind. Maggert said he didn’t know how the Schwab Cup points race stood during the playoff and wasn’t aware that Goosen needed a win to claim both titles.
On the first playoff hole, also the 18th, both players had birdie putts inside 8 feet and both missed off the left edge. Both then birdied the same hole, sending the playoff to the par-4 17th, where Goosen was facing a six-foot birdie putt before Maggert holed out with a pitching wedge for his dramatic eagle.
“I was just trying to hit it close and make a putt up there,” said Maggert, who hadn’t won an event since he posted four victories in 2015. “It’s nice to be back in the winner’s circle. Four years on this tour is a long time to go without a win. It’s like 20 years on the PGA Tour because you don’t have a long time out on this tour.”
While Maggert and Goosen were slugging it out, the most nervous player on the property was McCarron, who had led the Schwab Cup standings for 20 weeks but needed Maggert to win in order to claim the season title. He ended up 81,401 points ahead of Goosen, who was trying to become the first rookie to take home the Cup.
McCarron had finished fourth, third and second the previous three years in the Cup standings. With a final-round 71, he tied for 27th place in the tournament and needed help to hang onto the points lead.
“Jeff Maggert is my favorite player, “ cracked McCarron, who received a $1 million bonus for winning the Cup. “It was just brutal on me. It’s too incredible for words. You can’t write that (what just happened).
“I didn’t play great the last couple weeks but it was good enough. It was my goal to win the Schwab Cup when I came out here and I have been sneaking up on it the last three years.”
McCarron has won 11 times on the Champions Tour, including three this season, but none after June 9. Those victories gave him a huge lead in Charles Schwab Cup points, which he held onto for 20 weeks even though he failed to match his early success.
“It’s a lot (of things), it’s the pressure,” he said of his late-season struggles. “I’ve been in the lead here for 20-something weeks. I think everyone’s gunning for me. It gets to you a little bit.
“This is my first time in this position. I think maybe I just wanted it a little bit too much and didn’t play that well this week.”
Maggert made up for that and salvaged a season that at times was so frustrating, he had joked that he considered throwing his clubs in the driveway and running over them with his car.
“You get in stretches out here when it does get frustrating,” he said. “You’re on the road all the time, away from your family It can be a lonely existence when you’re not playing well.”
Goosen hadn’t won on any tour in 10 years until July when he captured a Champions Tour major, the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship. He wound up third in Schwab Cup points for the season behind McCarron and Jerry Kelly. Langer, who was trying to win the Cup for a record sixth time, wound up fourth.
“I hit a good shot in there to put the pressure on him and he holes out, so there’s really nothing you can do,” Goosen said. “It’s been awhile since I’ve been in a playoff so it was nice to do that again. It would have been nice to win it and walk away with the Cup, but maybe next year.”