On the last day of the 2019 PGA TOUR Champions season, Scott McCarron’s work was over. Fortunately for McCarron, Jeff Maggert’s was not.
Pulling off the kind of shot that people will remember for a long time, Maggert won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club, defeating Retief Goosen in a playoff. Maggert’s magic was a 123-yard hole-out for an eagle on the third extra hole.
“You know, I can’t explain it,” said Maggert, who then tried to do so. “It came off the club exactly kind of the way I was looking to hit it. It wasn’t a full wedge. It was about a 90-percent shot, and the trajectory was just going straight for the pin. I knew it had enough distance to clear the front of the green. Looked like it hit pretty close to the hole and had a little kick-in to the side.”
Not only did the spectacular moment give Maggert his first title since winning four times during 2015, it denied Goosen a victory in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup and meant that McCarron was going to finish the week where he had started it and where he’d been the previous 20 weeks—atop the Schwab Cup standings.
“I heard this huge roar and I’m like, ‘He made it,’ And then everyone was just coming up to me,” McCarron said. “I saw on TV that he hit that shot and it went right in the hole. I can’t believe it—that’s one of the most incredible shots I’ve ever seen and one of the most incredible shots that’s ever affected me that I didn’t hit.”
McCarron’s Schwab Cup victory came after contending strongly for the past three seasons. He was fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second last year. “This means a lot to me,” McCarron said. “It’s no secret, I’ve told everyone this is what I wanted. I wanted to win the Schwab Cup. I have worked—just like everyone else works—extremely hard this year to get in that position. Once I got in the position, I have to admit it was harder than I thought it was going to be.”
A principal reason it was a tough task was five-time Schwab Cup champion Bernhard Langer, whose relentlessly good play earned him the title two of the previous three seasons, including at age 61 in 2018.
Langer fought hard for a sixth Cup. He needed a victory in Phoenix to have a chance. Well before Maggert produced the tournament-ending drama, Langer was responsible for some of his own: a final-round hole-in-one with a 6-iron from 194 yards on No. 8 to pull within two strokes. Langer closed with a 67 to finish in a four-way tie for fourth place, five strokes out of the playoff and three behind third-place finisher Woody Austin.
With McCarron back in the pack, Goosen, fifth in the standings as play commenced in Arizona, needed Schwab Cup No. 2 Jerry Kelly to finish in a two-way tie for fifth in win the Cup with a victory in the championship. Kelly obliged, tying for 10th, but Goosen, trying to become the first PGA TOUR Champions rookie to win the Schwab Cup, missed a three-foot birdie on the first playoff hole that would have wrapped up victories in the tournament and Schwab Cup.
“I misread the putt, so yeah it was disappointing,” Goosen said. “And then he made a great up-and-down on the second playoff hole, and obviously what can I do? I hit a good shot in there on [the third playoff hole]. It looked like about five feet to put the pressure on him and he holes it, so there’s nothing I can do.”
McCarron also claimed the money title with $2,534,000. It was his third straight $2 million season, and he stopped Langer’s run of seven consecutive years as leading money winner. McCarron had three victories and 14 top-10 finishes.
“To have Jeff Maggert do what he did today means so much for this tour,” McCarron said. “Everyone was watching to see who was going to win and who was going to win the Schwab Cup. It all came to down to those two guys. This tour is incredible.”
This article first appeared in the PGA TOUR December 2019-May 2020 issue, which can be read here.