If another win by Mark Calcavecchia in the Phoenix Open wasn’t surprising, the margin of victory was.
Calcavecchia got in a zone and stayed there. He started rewriting tournament records halfway through and, at the end, he did the same to the PGA Tour record book.
"All in all, it was my best-ever performance for sure," he said Sunday after finishing four rounds at 28-under-par 256, the lowest 72-hole score in history. "I just don't see how I could ever top this."
The 72-hole record was set by Mike Souchak, who shot 257 at the 1955 Texas Open — five years before Calcavecchia was born.
"I've looked at that record, and it never crossed my mind that I could attain or do something like that," he said. "I know I'm streaky, but I'm not that good. Looking at the board when I was out on the green and seeing a red 28, it just looked crazy."
Also Set Record with 32 Birdies
Calcavecchia ended a three-year victory drought and added another Phoenix trophy to those he won in 1989 and 1992. He closed with 67 — his worst score of the event — after completing the last 10 holes of the third round.
He was 10-under for the 28 holes he played Sunday and birdied four of the last five as he zeroed in on Souchak's record.
Calcavecchia also set a record by birdieing 32 of the 72 holes.
Rocco Mediate, who won a Phoenix title in 1999, finished at 264. His 20-under would have won most events, but Mediate was eight shots back.
"He just made the putts he had to make," Mediate said. "He hit great iron shots for three straight days and never backed off once. Someone asked me if he was aggressive. Well, I guess. He didn't back off at all, and that's a champion right there."
Steve Lowery was third at 268, Scott Verplank fourth at 270 and Tiger Woods tied for fifth at 271.
Swing Adjustment Pays Off
Calcavecchia made a swing adjustment last week on the advice of Butch Harmon of Las Vegas, who told him in a phone call that he was overswinging. Calcavecchia fired an effortless 65 in the Wednesday pro-am and knew he was ready.
He opened with 65 and tied the tournament record with a second-round 60. His scores for 36 holes (125) and 54 (189) broke records established by Steve Jones, who fired a 258 in 1997.
Mediate briefly got within four shots when he birdied 14, but Calcavecchia dropped a birdie putt on top of him and went on to birdie the next three holes to claim the record.
"I played as good as I can play," Mediate said. "He just played better than everybody, period."
Calcavecchia reached 28-under on No. 17 when he drove short of the green, then chipped to within tap-in range. On No. 18, he drove into a fairway bunker, but put his second shot on the green and two-putted from 35 feet for par.
Woods’ Streak of Par or Better Is Snapped
The runaway was just what the huge crowds had come to see. But they thought Woods would do it.
Woods atoned for his second-round 73, which snapped his string of 52 consecutive rounds of par or better, by shooting 65 Sunday, but failed to win for a fifth straight tournament. He said he wasn't concerned.
"I just need to get some of those putts that have lipped out go in," Woods said.
He expects things to improve this week at Pebble Beach, where he played numerous times when he was in college.
"I love the [Monterey] Peninsula," he said. "I can hardly wait to get there."
If Woods loves Pebble Beach, Calcavecchia has a love affair going with Scottsdale. He was 21-under there in 1989 and 20-under in 1992.
"To win here for the third time, it just keeps getting better and better," Calcavecchia said.
Calcavecchia, who has a home in the Phoenix area, was relaxed throughout the final day, laughing and joking with playing partners Mediate and Verplank. He walked down the ninth fairway chatting with a young standard bearer, and was still smiling even when the putts weren't falling.