The Schwab Cup – Bay Area Battle

Jay Don Blake leads the Charles Schwab Cup Championship after three rounds at the TPC Harding Park Golf Club in San Francisco, California. He managed to do it with a clean-card, 5-birdie, 66 while the rest of the leaders shot between 2 and 4-under par.

A perennial journeyman on the PGA Tour, Blake has blossomed into pretty respectable player on the Champions Tour. After 3 years, he managed to get his first win in September at the Songdo IBD Championship in Songdo City, South Korea. He won a four-way playoff against John Cook, Mark O’Meara and Peter Senior. And all the luminaries were there.

At 8-under, he has a two-stroke lead over the trio of Jay Haas, David Frost and Michael Allen.

Haas would be leading were it not for a sloppy second round. He shot just 1-over, but he had three bogeys and a double-bogey to offset his otherwise fine work. One of the things that could help Haas on Sunday is his coming roll as a Captain’s Assistant to Fred Couples in the Presidents Cup. He’s slowed down a bit in 2010 and 2011 and his win this year in Minneapolis really masked another below average year. Perhaps Couples appointment will get him back in touch with that larger sense of himself.

David Frost had some distractions from the gallery today which is kind of emblematic of the kind of year he’s had. After he won in Minneapolis last year, his first full year on the Champions Tour, that sort of handled the one big thing all the rookies are worried about: not getting a quick win. And he ended up with $1.2 million by the end of the year. But here he is in the last event of the year and he’s only made $685,000. So a win here would cure a lot of ills and affirm that his good name does indeed belong high on the list of the best players where it always was on the regular Tour.

But my favorite dark horse would be Michael Allen. I wrote about him extensively in last year’s Schwab Cup when he lost by two to John Cook. He didn’t win the tournament, but he demonstrated that he was winning at life. After having to go back to Q-School over fifteen times, he jokingly hung the mantle of “King of Q-School” around his neck. All he knew was that he loved the game and had a family to provide for. You don’t need much motivation beyond that. I found it endearing that when the camera was on him as he strolled down the fairway on Saturday, he said hello to his daughter and told her that he hoped her SATs had gone well. His career is: he’s just over $1.0 million on the year.

The other big story of this tournament is who’s going to win the Schwab Cup million dollar annuity? Tom Lehman came in with a pretty big lead with four guys within reach if they won and he didn’t finish high enough. But the only one who still has a chance at this point is Mark Calcavecchia who is T6. But with Lehman uncharacteristically missing fairways and fighting a balky putter, from his place back at T16, he gives “Calc” hope.

With the forecast high at only 59 degrees and a thirty percent chance of rain, it’ll be a classic San Francisco winter day. And then anything can happen and it could all come down to who can play in marginal conditions without even thinking about it.

But then that holds true for pretty much all distractions in golf…and life.

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