Calvin Peete, who came to La Costa seeking to redeem himself, did it in grand style. He led off the 1986 PGA Tour with a front-running, record-breaking, six-stroke victory today in the Tournament of Champions.
Peete, the tour's most prolific winner in the last four years, acquired the 11th victory of his late-starting career with a closing round of 68 and a 267 total. He earned $90,000.
In the concurrent tournament for 1985 Seniors Tour winners, 54-year-old Miller Barber won by five strokes over Arnold Palmer. Barber, never threatened in the final round, collected $30,000 after a closing par 72 for 282. Palmer also ended with a 72, as did Lee Elder, third in the seven-man field at 288.
As for Peete, "I wanted to redeem myself," he said. In this event a year ago, he was disqualified and later fined after taking an undetermined number of strokes, several on a moving ball, on the fifth hole of the first round.
"An unfortunate situation," Peete said. "I wanted to give the fans four rounds of golf this year."
He gave them the best four rounds since the old tournament, which brings together only the winners of PGA Tour titles the past year, came to the La Costa Country Club from Las Vegas in 1969.
His rounds of 68, 67, 64 and 68 added up to a 21-under-par total, breaking the tournament scoring record of 268 set by Jerry Barber in Las Vegas in 1960. It's six strokes better than the La Costa record set by Frank Beard in 1971.
Peete, 43, winning his 10th title since the start of the 1982 season, led by three shots over Mark O'Meara starting the final round -- by eight over the closest of the rest. After five holes of play in bright, warm sunshine, his lead was five strokes and he took it from there.
"He just didn't make any mistakes, never opened the door a crack," said O'Meara, the only man with any hope of overtaking Peete.
O'Meara closed 71 -- 273. Towering Phil Blackmar was third at 69 -- 277. Scott Verplank, 21, winner of the Western Open last year and now the first amateur to play in the 34-year history of this tournament, matched par 72 and tied for fourth at 279 with Danny Edwards and Bernhard Langer.