Norman, Faxon Win Third Straight Fred Meyer Challenge
With a rush of six birdies and an eagle in an eight-hole span, Greg Norman and Brad Faxon left no doubt that they are the unchallenged masters of the Fred Meyer Challenge.
Norman and Faxon, already the first team to win the Challenge two years in a row, made it three straight yesterday, shooting an 8-under-par 63 in the second round for a course record 19-under 123 total, three shots better than Phil Mickelson and Jay Haas.
Dating to 1995, over 108 holes of golf on the steep hills of the 6,914-yardOregon Golf Club course, Norman and Faxon are a combined 50-under-par in the best-ball team event.
“You still go out there to win, no matter if you’re playing in a PGA event, playing in a major or playing here,” said Norman, who had si xbirdies and an eagle yesterday. “I laugh when I read in the newspaper that there’s more pressure in winning a major. There’s just as much pressure to win the PGA Championship or playing here. You’re still trying to make the shot.”
Mickelson, fresh from his PGA Tour victory at last weekend’s International, teamed with Haas to finish second at 16-under 126. They shot a 10-under 61 yesterday.
Haas chipped in for an eagle on the par-4 10th for the second day in a row.
“We made the turn at 1-under yesterday and that killed us,” Haas said.”We were just too far behind.”
Steve Elkington and Craig Stadler were third at 127, one shot ahead of Arnold Palmer and tournament host Peter Jacobsen.
After their tournament record 11-under 60 in Monday’s first round, Norman and Faxon started out slowly yesterday. They birdied the first hole, then ran off a string of six consecutive pars.
That left it open for someone to make a run at the leaders, but no one did.
Using a wedge instead of a putter, Norman knocked in a birdie putt on No. 9, just after Fred Couples, playing in the foursome, made a 45-foot puttfor a birdie on the same hole.
“It did a full 360 before it went in, and that was kind of the spark that gave us an emotional lift,” Faxon said.
Norman followed with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11, and Faxon had his only birdie of the day on No. 12.
The winners slammed the door when Norman birdied No. 14, then hit an iron shot within 10 feet for an eagle on 15.
A bogey on No. 17 still left Norman and Faxon comfortably ahead.
“That was our only bogey in three years,” Faxon said.
Norman had 13 birdies and an eagle in his two rounds, using a putter he’s had since he was 16 years old but only used once since 1989, earlier this year when he won in Memphis.
“I’ve won a lot of golf tournaments with that putter,” he said.
Norman and Faxon broke the old course record of 18-under 124 they set last year. The tournament record of 19-under 122 was set by Bobby and Lanny Wadkins in 1990 at the Portland Golf Club, two years before the event moved to the Oregon Golf Club.
Maybe it was the early tee times that followed Monday night’s charity auction revelry, but all the golfers needed a few holes to warm up.
No one was hotter than the team of Tom Lehman and Lee Janzen who shot a 7-under 28 on the back nine. They were one of four teams at 13-under 129.
Six of the 12 teams had eagles yesterday on the par-5, 517-yard 15th.
The last-place team of Mark Calcavecchia and Billy Mayfair still split $45,000. Jacobsen said the purse would grow from $750,000 to $1 million next year.
“All we’re hearing,” Faxon said. “is that everybody’s mad that we won again.”