PGA Tour
By Kevin Currie, Golf Editor - Archive - Email
2012 Champions Tour Year In Review
Tom Lehman won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship by six shots, while
he smashed the tournament's scoring record by a whopping eight strokes.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The 2012 Champions Tour season had many of the same players fighting for the top spot on the money list and Charles Schwab Cup points race.

However, the middle of the season was taken over by a player that had lots of success on the European Senior Tour, but not much success on this side of the pond.

Roger Chapman won two majors in a span of six starts on the Champions Tour and looked to be the runaway favorite for all sorts of awards. He cooled and dropped to 13th on the money list, but still had a great season.

A year after ending 25th on the money list as he played through injury, Bernhard Langer was back in form and battling Tom Lehman in the money and Charles Schwab Cup races.

Let's look at who did what in 2012.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Tom Lehman

Eight players won twice in 2012 on the Champions Tour, but no one won three times. With his two major championship wins, one could argue that Roger Chapman was the player of the year.

However, that honor goes to Tom Lehman, who finished second on the money list, but did something that no other player had done to this point.

The 1996 British Open champion smashed the scoring record at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and in doing so, he repeated as champion in the season-long race for the Charles Schwab Cup.

Trailing Langer in the Schwab Cup race, Lehman knew he needed to win the finale to top Langer in that race. And he did that in impressive fashion.

Lehman went 15-under par in the middle two rounds of the season-ending event. That helped him win that title by six shots, while he smashed the tournament's scoring record by a whopping eight strokes.

That win gave him his second straight Charles Schwab Cup title.

In one particularly hot stretch in the middle of the summer, Lehman ran off eight top-10 finishes in a 10-event span. In that time, Lehman had a win and three second-place finishes.

TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - U.S. Senior Open

In the top five at the end of the championship were three major champions on the PGA Tour and four players that had won majors on the senior circuit.

For the second time this season, Roger Chapman came out on top at a major championship. After opening with three 68s, Chapman closed with a 4-under 66 to win his second major of the year.

Both of Chapman's major victories came in the state of Michigan, and he said after the second title that, "I wanted to prove to myself and to people that Benton Harbor (Senior PGA Championship) wasn't a one-off event."

Chapman joined legends Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Hale Irwin as the fourth man to win the Senior PGA and U.S. Senior Open in the same season.

Among the players Chapman took down in the final round were - Fred Funk, who has three senior majors to his credit; 1995 U.S. Open champion Corey Pavin; 1996 British Open champ, Tom Lehman, who also has three senior majors; and 2- time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who won two senior majors in 2010.

Langer led by four entering the final round, but struggled to a 72 to drop into a share of second place.

SHOT OF THE YEAR - Pavin's backhander

The shot of the year doesn't always lead to a win, but it usually has a part in that player earning the trophy at the end of the week.

It was just the second event of the season, but Corey Pavin's back-hander in the final round at the Allianz Championship helped him earn the title.

Pavin missed the green at the par-3 14th and his ball stopped in treacherous hole and against a root. His choices were to play the shot back-handed or take a drop, which likely would have led to a bogey.

The former U.S. Open champion flipped his 8-iron upside down and pitched onto the green. He drained his par-saving putt and eventually got into a playoff with Peter Senior.

Pavin birdied the first extra hole to win the title. Pavin stumbled to a bogey at 17, while Senior birdied the last to match Pavin at 11-under par.

If Pavin hadn't made his stellar par-save at 14, he likely would have lost the title in regulation to his playing partner.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Kirk Triplett

Knowing that his time on the Champions Tour was nearing, Kirk Triplett spent much of his time in 2010 and 2011 on the Nationwide Tour.

Despite a bad year overall in 2011, Triplett did win the News Sentinel Open by two strokes.

Triplett turned 50 in late March of this year and made his move to the senior circuit, while the Nationwide Tour changed to the Web.com Tour.

Once on the elder circuit, Triplett did something that he hadn't done on the PGA Tour since 2006 - win. He closed with a 66 at Pebble Beach to win the Nature Valley First Tee Open.

Triplett took 19th on the money list this year thanks to his win and four other top-10 finishes. He shared sixth at the Senior Players Championship and finished no worse than tied for 33rd in the five majors.

Instead of cashing paychecks as a TV pitchman, Triplett has gotten back into the swing of earning his paychecks on the golf course.

GOOD YEAR

Langer - Led the tour in earnings, top-5s and top-10s. He was one of eight 2- time winners this year, but also tallied five runner-up finishes.

Chapman - Best finish in his last six starts was a share of 20th, but Chapman won two majors this season. That alone put him in select company.

Jay Don Blake - Along with Lehman, the only two men to finish in the top-5 on the Champions Tour money list the last two years. Blake won once this season, but didn't finish outside the top-16 in his last six starts.

Mark Calcavecchia - Has won once in each of the last two years and ended sixth and second on the money list. Calc may have coughed up a few titles, but still had 11 top-10s in 23 starts.

Joe Daley - He never won the PGA Tour, but did win on the then NIKE Tour and Nationwide Tour. Thanks to four rounds in the 60s, Daley won the Senior Players Championship by two strokes over Lehman. Not only did he earn his first tour win, but he also did so at a major.

BAD YEAR

Bob Gilder - He posted the most starts on tour, 23, without earning a single top-5 or top-10 finish.

John Cook - A year after winning three times in 2011, Cook was held without a victory in 2012.

Tom Watson - Played in three of the five majors and finished no worse than tied for 22nd in those three events, but only made three other starts due to injury.

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