From a record high of 99 degrees on Thursday, to perfect conditions without a hint of a breeze on Friday, to mid-70s with gusts up to 30 mph on Saturday, the weather has been a bit of a factor at Phoenix Country Club for the PGA Tour Champions Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
The course is playing at 6,763 yards, and last season, it was the easiest course on tour. Because of the conditions, the scoring average on Saturday was nearly two strokes higher than Friday. The cumulative score on Friday was 99-under par. On Saturday? It was 60 over.
The wind was affecting everyone’s shots and even many putts but also, believe it or not, teed up balls.
“I tell you, my ball was wobbling on the tee on 16,” said Kevin Sutherland a few minutes after he birdied the 18th to get to 13-under par. “It was a little disconcerting watching the ball kind of wobble a little bit as you’re getting ready to hit it.”
Sutherland, 56, was among those who powered through the wind. His second-round 64 pushed his lead to five shots over Wes Short, Jr., who sits at 8 under. Sutherland’s lead is the largest on tour heading into the final round this season.
Tom Lehman and Paul Broadhurst are T-3 at 7 under. Corey Pavin, Jim Furyk, Woody Austin and Mike Weir are T-5 at 6 under.
CHARLES SCHWAB CUP: Leaderboard
Other notables: Ernie Els and Fred Couples are T-13 at 4 under; defending champion Jeff Maggert is T-19 at 3 under; Charles Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer is T-28 at 2 under; John Daly is T-54 at 1 over; and Rich Beem is T-56. He opened with a 67 but shot 78 on Saturday. Mark Calcavecchia withdrew after 16 holes.
Sutherland, who says he’s never taken a lead this large into a final round, won the Cup the first year it was held at Phoenix Country Club in 2017 and would love to cap 2020 with another one.
“It’s hard to believe that was three years ago that I won here and I won the Schwab Cup, so this place has great memories for me and every time I come here I get a good feeling about how things are going to go,” he said. “So far, so good this week. This place is great to me.”
Old stomping grounds
Local favorite Billy Mayfair is among a group of golfers eight shots back.
“I love this golf course, I love playing here in the valley, I love playing in front of my hometown,” he said.
Mayfair went to nearby Camelback High School in Phoenix and later played at Arizona State. He birdied the 18th to shoot a 70 on Saturday. Mayfair, 54, has never won on the PGA Tour Champions but being at Phoenix Country Club brings everything full circle. In junior high and high school in the early 80s, Mayfair volunteered as a standard bearer when the Phoenix Open was played there.
“I carried the sign for Jerry Pate a lot,” Mayfair said. “He had the orange golf ball, I loved playing the old ProStaff orange ball and all that stuff.
“Every day after school we’d come right down here and I’d be out here watching guys hit balls until dark. I can remember watching Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and all those guys out here practicing, hitting balls, so it’s kind of neat to be back here on the same turf.”
The weather will continue to change. Sunday’s high is expected to be even cooler with a high of 67 and there’s a chance of rain, although it’s likely to come late in the day.
The final round will be live on Golf Channel from 4 – 6:30 p.m. ET.