A tournament that was David Toms’ to lose was lost on Sunday, when Tom Lehman erased a four-stroke deficit and won the PGA Tour Champions’ season opener, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, by a stroke on the final hole.
Lehman, 59, caught Toms with three birdies in a four-hole stretch, 13 through 16 at Hualalai Golf Club, then won when Toms three-putted the 18th green by missing a six-footer for par to send it to a playoff.
“I feel very badly for him to finish with a three-putt when he played so well,” Lehman said. “He played great golf. But I didn’t make any mistakes. I played two bogey-free rounds to finish the tournament.
“Four shots behind, you need to get some help. David only made a couple of mistakes. He played really well today. But I played about as well as I could play and got very fortunate.”
Lehman shot a seven-under par 65 to record his 12th PGA Tour Champions victory.
Toms, the reigning U.S. Senior Open champion, opened the tournament with a pair of 65s that gave him a four-shot lead entering the final round. But he opened with a bogey and closed with a bogey, allowing Lehman to secure a victory in a tournament in which he has finished second twice.
“To finally get this win is so gratifying,” Lehman said. “I love this trophy. This trophy is so cool. I can’t wait to give it to my kid. I’ve played well here in the past, so it’s great to finally get this win. To beat this field is very significant.”
The ageless Bernhard Langer, meanwhile, shot a final-round 67 and tied for third. Langer, 61, is the reigning Charles Schwab Cup champion.