PHOENIX (AP) — Kevin Sutherland finally broke through on the PGA Tour Champions, taking the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship — and topping the yearlong competition, too.
Sutherland closed a 5-under 66 on Sunday for a one-stroke victory over Vijay Singh at Phoenix Country Club, the tree-lined course hosting its first tour event since the Phoenix Open left for TPC Scottsdale in 1988.
“I don’t even know. It’s like a whirlwind thing. It’s amazing,” Sutherland said. “I mean, the names on this trophy are incredible. I’ve seen it, and to be on that list is just, I can’t even put words to it, it’s just amazing.”
Bernhard Langer, the winner of the first two playoff events, had a 64 to tie for 12th — five strokes back. Langer slipped to second in the season standings, missing a chance to win the title for the fourth straight year and fifth overall.
“It was never meant to be fair,” Langer said. “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.”
The 53-year-old Sutherland won for the first time in 78 starts on the 50-and-over tour and ended an overall winless streak of 341 events. He entered the week fifth in the Charles Schwab Cup season points standings, the last spot where the player had to only win the tournament to take the $1 million annuity. He earned $440,000 for the tournament victory.
The only player to shoot 59 in senior tour history, Sutherland had 15 top-10 finishes this season, finishing second three times and third twice. His lone PGA Tour victory came in 2002 at La Costa in the Accenture Match Play Championship.
“I played really well all year and I just couldn’t find a way to get a win. So, to win this tournament, it’s unbelievable. I’m sure in a couple days it will sink in a little bit, but right now it just seems like I’m not even sure it really happened, I keep pinching myself. It feels good and it’s been a long time since I won a tournament.”
Sutherland finished at 15-under 198. He played the final 46 holes without a bogey, opening Sunday with a birdie on the par-5 first, eagling the par-5 seventh and adding birdies on the par-4 ninth and 16th.
Singh shot a 63. He opened with an eagle and birdied the last two.
John Daly (65), David Frost (67), David Toms (67) and Lee Janzen (67) tied for third at 13 under.
“I love old, traditional golf courses,” Daly said. “I know this is one if you hit the fairways, you know you can score well on, and if you don’t, you’re not.”
Sutherland had a 63 on Friday to move within two strokes of leader Paul Goydos, the tournament winner last year at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale. Goydos closed with a 72 to tie for ninth at 9 under.
“I know Paul didn’t have the best day today,” Sutherland said. “Paul’s a good friend of mine, but it allowed me to kind of sneak in there and win. … He’s my biggest supporter. He’s constantly telling everybody about how well I’m playing. I’m like, ‘Paul, I don’t need a publicist.'”
Langer led the tour with seven victories, winning three of the five majors, and set an earnings record with $3,677,359 in his sixth straight money title. The 60-year-old German has never won the season-ending event.
“I have to pinch myself,” Langer said. “Just got to be really grateful and thankful.”
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