Categorized | Golf, Sports

PGA Champions Tour: Cook swoops in to claim Hualalai title

2011 Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Final-Round Notes

(The 1st of 25 official events on the 2011 Champions Tour)

Jan. 21-23, 2011
Charles Schwab Cup points: 305
Purse: $1,800,000
Hualalai Golf Course Par/Yards: 36-36—72/7,107

Weather: Partly cloudy with highs in the low-80s and winds from the W at 5-15 mph.

Final Leaderboard: 1—John Cook (-22); 2—Tom Lehman (-20); 3—Tom Watson (-19); T4—Russ Cochran (-17), Jeff Sluman (-17); 6—Corey Pavin (-16); 7—Tom Kite (-15)

John Cook’s finishing kick on the back nine propelled him to a two-stroke victory over Tom Lehman in the 2011 Champions Tour’s season-opening event at Hualalai.

Cook trailed 36-hole leader Russ Cochran by one stroke after his front nine on Sunday, but he reeled off five straight birdies beginning at the par-5 10th to take command of the tournament.

After making a nice up-an-down par save from left of the green at No. 15, Cook holed a clutch four-foot birdie at the 16th to put the tournament away.

Lehman trailed Cook by four strokes after his birdie at No. 13 but, despite playing his final five holes in four-under-par, Lehman still fell two shots short.

* John Cook claimed his sixth career victory on the Champions Tour and second consecutive win dating back to last season’s triumph at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. It was also Cook’s second Tour victory in Hawaii. In 1992, he defeated Paul Azinger by two strokes to win the United Airlines Hawaiian Open, the fifth of his 11 career titles on the PGA Tour.

* With his win, Cook became the first player since Gil Morgan in 1997-98 to win the season-opening event after claiming the last official tournament the previous year. In three previous appearances at Hualalai, Cook finished sixth in 2008, T6 in 2009 and T22 last year.

* John Cook has now finished among the top-five in four straight events dating back to his T5 at last fall’s Administaff Small Business Classic. He also was T3 at the AT&T Championship prior to his victory at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Starting with a 69 in Round 2 of the Administaff event, Cook now has 12 straight rounds in the 60s.

* John Cook’s final-round allowed him to rally from three strokes back for victory. It was the first time since Loren Roberts in 2006 that a player made up that large of a margin on the final day and for the first time since 2005, the winner of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship did not come from the final Sunday pairing.

* John Cook jumped to an early lead in the 2011 Charles Schwab Cup race, earning 305 points for his win today. He finished third last year in the season-long Schwab Cup race with 2,451 points. The Schwab Cup is designed to recognize the Champions Tour’s leading player, rewarding all top-10 finishes on a points-per-$1,000 basis. The player with the most points at the end of the 25 official events will earn a $1 million payout from Charles Schwab.

* Members of the 1976-77 Ohio State golf team have now claimed the last three Champions Tour events. Rod Spittle, the 2010 AT&T Championship winner, and John Cook were members of the same Buckeye squad.

* John Cook shot 22-under-par 194 this week his lowest 54-hole score ever in a three-round Champions Tour event. His previous-best score in a 54-hole Champions Tour event is 16-under 197 at the 2008 AT&T Championship in San Antonio.

* If recent history is any indication, John Cook stands a good chance to win again in 2011. Over the last six seasons, the champion of the season-opening event at Hualalai has gone on to claim at least one more event on the schedule on four occasions.

* Tom Watson made a spirited run in defense of his Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai title and eventually finished T3. It was Watson’s eighth top-10 finish in the event, vaulting him out of a tie with five other players for the most top-10 finishes by a player in tournament history. Here are Watson’s other top-10s in the season-opening event: 2001 (T8), 2003 (T4), 2005 (T2), 2006 (T5), 2007 (T9), 2008 (T8), 2010 (1).

* For the second consecutive year, the winning score at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship was 22-under-par 194. Now in five of the last six years at Hualalai, the winning score at this event has been 22-under or better. John Cook’s 21 birdies tied for the most in the tournament (Tom Lehman, Tom Watson) but were the fewest by a winner since 2005 when Dana Quigley only made 15.

* With very gentle breezes each of the three days, the overall field scoring average for this year’s event was 68.746 compared to 69.130 last year. This year, there were 78 total rounds below 70 recorded compared to just 66 total rounds in the 60s last year. There were 28 eagles made this year compared to 18 in last year’s event.

* Once again, the par-3 5th hole played as the hardest for the event (3.246), yielding just nine birdies for the week. The par-5 4thhole was the easiest (4.230) giving up nine eagles and 81 birdies.

* Tom Pernice, Jr. finished T13 this year at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, snapping his streak of top-10s on the Champions Tour at nine consecutive. Prior to today, the last time Pernice, Jr. did not finish among the top 10 in a Champions Tour event was at last year’s Mitsubishi Electric Championship (T27).

* This & That: Nick Price led the field in Driving Accuracy, hitting 39 of 42 fairways…Tom Watson led the field in Greens Hit In Regulation, hitting 48 of 54 (88.89%)…Phil Blackmar averaged 25.33 putts per round.

Quote of the Day: I love to compete, I want to get better. I felt I needed to get at least 10 percent better at everything to become the player that I really want to be, and that’s winning majors and winning championships – just winning more. – John Cook after winning the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai.

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