If anyone ever asked me if I’d seen it all, my answer, without question, would be an assertive “yes,” but oh my, was I wrong.
The most bizarre things happened last weekend and, unbelievably, 7000 miles apart. Two big-time tournaments ended in different, yet oddly similar ways.
Let’s start with the Turkish Airlines Open played at The Montgomerie Golf Complex in Turkey, right on the Mediterranean Sea. This European Tour event is part of the very lucrative Rolex Series, which eventually concludes with the DP World Tour Championship, played in Dubai in a few weeks.
As it was the fourth event in the six-event series, the purse was a big one. The winner was destined to put close to $2 million into his or her bank account. The competition was also fierce, and after four rounds and 72 holes, there were six players tied for the lead. In the rich history of the European Tour, there had never been a six-way playoff.
Under the playoff rules, there would be one winner, and all other players would officially tie for second place, which meant that the total prize money awarded to places two through six would be combined and split by the five that didn’t win. The bottom line? All placers received $450,000, which meant that the difference between winning and not was a staggering $1.6 million.
Three of the six players were eliminated quickly after the first playoff hole, and it was a good thing because the sun was setting fast. Fortunately, there were floodlights in place on the finishing hole — another first for the European Tour. At the end of the sixth hole, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton accepted the winner’s check in the dark, but his ear-to-ear grin could easily be seen.
Meanwhile, 7013 miles away, in Phoenix, AZ, the final event on the PGA Tour Champions schedule for the year, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, was being played. And again, a playoff was needed to identify the champion.
The playoff involved Jeff Maggert and two-time U.S. Open Champion Retief Goosen (2001 and 2004). At this season-ending championship, there were essentially two tournaments being played out. One was the Charles Schwab championship itself, with a first-place payout of $440,000, and the other the Charles Schwab Cup points race that awarded a $1 million annuity to the winner.
Already in the clubhouse, American golfer Scott McCarron was watching intently. Just to add to the intrigue, if his fellow American Maggert were to prevail, he would win the points race and the $1 million annuity.
It was not looking good for McCarron when Goosen had a four-foot putt to end it all on the first playoff hole, but he missed it. Goosen had another great chance on the third playoff hole after he hit another solid approach leaving him with a makeable birdie putt. But Maggert took dead aim from 124 yards, hit a one-hopper right into the bottom of the cup for an eagle, and earned his first PGA Tour Champions victory in over four years.
McCarron won the points race and $1 million, and Maggert took home the $440,000 championship prize.
Two events miles apart, two amazing results, two first for me. I’ve learned my lesson. You’ll never catch me again saying, “Oh yes, I have seen it all.”