TULSA, Okla. -- This one had all the suspense of Tyson-Seldon.
Tom Lehman, who had to sleep on a nine-stroke lead for two nights waiting to administer the coup de grace in the rain-delayed, season-ending $3 million Tour Championship, finished off the job with relative ease yesterday.
On a foggy, soggy day at Southern Hills, Lehman, 37, drove in the finishing nail with a sledgehammer. He shot a final-round 71 for a total of 12-under-par 268 to defeat Brad Faxon (68-274) by six strokes and close out his finest season as a professional.
For Lehman, a man on a mission this weekend, everything he set out to do he accomplished. His $540,000 check for first place vaulted him from third place to first place on the 1996 money list. It gave him a PGA Tour-record total of $1,780,159 that broke Greg Norman's 1996 record of $1.64 million and earned Lehman enough points to displace Phil Mickelson as the PGA of America's Player of the Year.
"It turned out to be a dream year," Lehman said. "I didn't really think about winning the money list until this week. I played great, and everything just fell into place for me."
His rounds of 66-67-64-71 cemented his hold on the Vardon Trophy, awarded to the player with the lowest scoring average for the year, and probably made him the favorite for the PGA Tour Player of the Year award, which is voted on by his peers.
That award probably will come down to a choice between Lehman and Mickelson, with PGA Tour players needing to decide how Lehman's victory in the British Open, his Vardon Trophy, his money title and his 13 top 10's in 22 events stack up against Mickelson's four PGA Tour victories this year.
"It's going to be close," said Faxon, "but I told Tom coming up the 18th hole, 'You've got my vote.' He came in here ready to play. He was impressive."
Mickelson's last chance to keep his position as leading money winner disappeared into the pond fronting the 537-yard, par-5 13th hole. At the time, he was 1-under par and four strokes out of a tie for third.
Gambling on his second shot with a driver from a sidehill lie, he rifled his ball into the water. He hit another shot into the water with a wedge and wound up with a triple bogey and a final-round 73 that left him in 12th place.
"It was a little disappointing," Mickelson said, "but Tom played great this week. He ran away with the tournament, and he deserves it. He's had a great year."
Tom Lehman, $540,000 66-67-64-71-268
Brad Faxon, $324,000 68-72-66-68-274
Steve Stricker, $207,000 70-68-72-65-275
Kenny Perry, $144,000 73-68-70-66-277
Fred Couples, $120,000 68-73-68-69-278
Ernie Els, $102,000 76-70-65-68-279
Justin Leonard, $102,000 73-68-68-70-279
Tom Watson, $102,000 70-70-69-70-279
Jeff Sluman, $87,600 71-74-67-68-280
hTC Vijay Singh, $87,600 66-71-69-74-280
John Cook, $81,000 70-73-70-68-281
Phil Mickelson, $76,800 67-75-68-73-283
Davis Love III, $73,200 72-71-71-70-284
Fred Funk, $69,600 71-73-74-67-285
Mark Calcavecchia, $63,600 69-71-73-73-286
Jim Furyk, $63,600 72-71-73-70-286
David Duval, $63,600 71-71-74-70-286
Scott Hoch, $58,800 73-73-67-74-287
Mark O'Meara, $58,800 74-71-71-71-287
Steve Jones, $58,800 67-73-70-77-287
Corey Pavin, $55,800 71-73-73-71-288
Tiger Woods, $55,800 70-78-72-68-288
Michael Bradley, $54,000 71-73-75-70-289
Nick Faldo, $52,800 75-72-76-68-291
Tommy Tolles, $51,600 73-77-74-68-292
Duffy Waldorf, $50,400 74-76-72-71-293
Mark Brooks, $49,500 73-75-73-74-295
Jeff Maggert, $49,500 78-76-70-71-295
Greg Norman, $48,000 73-72-67-WD
Pub Date: 10/29/96