Tom Lehman emerged from about a half-dozen realistic contenders on the back nine Sunday at Prestonwood.
And then he made an unlikely 12-foot putt from just outside the first cut on 18 while Hall of Famer Bernhard Langer missed a short one, finishing a fantastic charge to win the SAS Championship.
The pair were playing in the penultimate group, and it wasn’t totally over until Joe Durant missed a 200-yard shot for eagle by just over a foot.
“I think (having a logjam at the turn) makes it easier because of the way this course plays,” Lehman said. “It’s tougher early and it gives more at the end. I’ve always felt all the years I’ve played here that if you can play the front nine reasonably well, the back nine gives up more. ... So with everybody bunched up you just knew that somebody was going to break loose. And everybody was kind of moving up the scoreboard together who were behind the leaders, and the leaders were kind of doing nothing.”
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Lehman finished at 7-under-par 204, followed by Durant at 205, Langer and Kenny Perry at 206 while Colin Montgomerie, John Riegger and Lee Janzen are at 208.
Langer lamented about what might have been on another day.
“Obviously it depended what Joe was going
to do, but he kind of got stuck on the 10-under number,” he said. “And all of a sudden Tom’s putter got hot and my putter got a little better (but) when he made this putt it was obviously over. I’d still had a chance thinking if I make the putt and Tom might miss we’d be tied, but it turned out the other way around.”
Lehman was 5-under over the final four holes to win his first Champions Tour event since the Encompass Championship in Chicago 15 months ago.
Montgomerie retained the lead for the Charles Schwab Cup with 3,078 points, with Maggert at 3,039 and Langer at 2,742 with nobody else in contention.
“It was a great back nine,” Montgomerie said. “I missed an eagle putt on 17 from 10 feet, and I missed four-footers on the 13th and 14th as well. I had to do something (since) Jeff Maggert and Bernhard Langer were ahead of me. I came back st 5-under so let’s hope that does something anyway and keeps the yellow jersey (on his caddie).”
Maggert finished at 211 on Sunday, with defending champion Kirk Triplett at 212. Raleigh’s Scott Hoch finished at 216, UNC graduate Mike Goodes at 217, Smithfield’s Neal Lancaster at 220 and Roxboro’s Jim Thorpe at 228.
The Champions Tour will move to the San Antonio Championship on Friday, and then to the Toshiba Classic on Oct. 30 in Newport Beach, Calif.
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be Nov. 5-8 in Scottsdale, Ariz.