Mark Calcavecchia's day started early with a five-shot lead and an 8-iron he couldn't wait to hit. It ended 28 holes later with a spot in the PGA Tour record book and the Phoenix Open trophy secure in his grasp.
Calcavecchia birdied four of the last five holes Sunday to win the Phoenix Open with a 28-under-par 256, breaking a record held for 46 years by Mike Souchak for lowest 72-hole score.
Calcavecchia also set a record for most birdies in 72 holes, making 32 of them over four days on the par-71 TPC of Scottsdale course to win by eight shots over Rocco Mediate.
He did it on a day when neither Tiger Woods nor anyone in the rest of the field was much of a threat. Calcavecchia returned from Saturday's suspended third round to hit an 8-iron close for birdie on the ninth hole en route to a 64, then turned around and shot a 67 in the final 18 holes.
The only suspense remaining in the final round was whether Calcavecchia would break the record for lowest score set by Souchak in the 1955 Texas Open. By the time he ran off four straight birdies beginning on the 14th hole to secure the mark, much of the huge crowd had already left for home to watch the Super Bowl.
"It's been a long time. At least it seems like it's been a long time," said Calcavecchia, whose last win came in the 1998 Honda Classic.
Calcavecchia, who took command of the tournament with a second round 60, had to play 28 holes Sunday after the third round was suspended because of lightning and hail with Calcavecchia in the ninth fairway waiting to hit his second shot.
"I'd love to get out there right now and throw that baby close," he said after walking off the course.
Calcavecchia did just that, playing his last 10 holes in the third round 5 under.
"Not too many guys win out here once they've past 40," said Calcavecchia, who turned 40 last year. "And the longer you go without winning, the tougher it is to win again."
Much of the crowd was on hand to watch Woods, who rewarded them with a 65 that left him 15 shots off the pace. It was the furthest behind Woods finished in a tournament in nearly three years, though he finished tied for fifth.
It was the fifth straight tournament that Woods has failed to win, and he had his streak of 52 straight rounds of par or better snapped with a 73 in the second round. Still, Woods said he was not concerned with his game.
"I'm not playing badly," he said. "I just need to get some of those putts that have lipped out go in."
Woods was a late entry into the tournament, but Pebble Beach was always on his schedule and he was eager to et there. Woods played numerous junior tournaments in the area and played there often when he was in college.
"I love the (Monterey) peninsula," he said. "I can hardly wait to get there."
If Woods loves Pebble Beach, Calcavecchia has a love affair going with Phoenix. He won here in 1989 with a 21-under score and was 20 under in 1992 when he won here.
Calcavecchia, who has a home in the Phoenix area, was relaxed throughout the final day, laughing and joking with playing partners Mediate and Scott Verplank. He walked down the ninth fairway chatting with a young boy who was a standard bearer, and was still smiling when Mediate crept within four shots at one point on the back nine.
"To win here for the third time, it just keeps getting better and better," Calcavecchia said.
Calcavecchia got to 28 under on the 17th hole, hitting a drive short of the green, then hitting a chip to within tap-in range. He drove it into a fairway bunker on 18, but put his second shot on the green and two-putted for the record.
Divots: Woods started bogey-par-par, then played his next seven holes 7-under.
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