Storylines: Charles Schwab Cup ChampionshipBernhard Langer needs to finish in a tie for fourth or better to clinch his first Charles Schwab Cup title.November 02, 2010
PGA TOUR staff
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bernhard Langer appears to be in the driver's seat to claim the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as the Champions Tour Player of the Year based on five wins and two major titles. However, Fred Couples could make a case for himself should he prevail in San Francisco.
Couples, who led the victorious U.S. Presidents Cup team here last year, has won four times, including a runaway victory two weeks ago near Houston at the Administaff Small Business Classic. He is also on pace to set an all-time Champions Tour scoring average mark and comes into this event with an average of 67.89, well ahead of Hale Irwin's record 68.59 set in 1998.
LANGER IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT: If past history is any indication, Bernhard Langer remains a heavy favorite to win the 2010 Charles Schwab Cup title. In the previous nine years, the only player to overtake the leader coming into the final event was Tom Watson in 2005.
Taking advantage of triple points (the third and final year triple points were awarded); Watson was a one-stroke victor in the tournament over Jay Haas and surged past the previous week's leader, Dana Quigley, to win the Cup by 247 points.
Quigley finished T5 that week. Since its inception in 2001, the Charles Schwab Cup champion has been determined eight of nine times at this tournament. The lone exception was in 2002 when Hale Irwin claimed the title before the event began. Should Fred Couples win this event, Bernhard Langer must finish no worse than a two-way tie for fourth place to earn at least 299 points to win the Cup.
HARDING PARK IS EVENT'S NEW HOME IN 2010, 2011: The Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be staged at San Francisco's Harding Park for the next two years. Opened in 1925, Harding Park hosted the 2009 Presidents Cup as well as the 2005 World Golf Championships-American Express Championship which was won by Tiger Woods.
Locations: Charles Schwab Cup Championship Years Course Location 1990-93 Hyatt Dorado Beach (East) Dorado, Puerto Rico 1994-99 Dunes Golf & Beach Club Myrtle Beach, S.C. 2000 TPC Myrtle Beach Murrells Inlet, S.C. 2001-02 Gaillardia Golf & CC Oklahoma City, Okla. 2003-09 Sonoma GC Sonoma, Calif.
Harding Park hosted the USGA's National Public Links Championship in 1937 and 1956 and was also home of the Lucky International/San Francisco Open Invitational on the PGA TOUR in the 1960s. It also hosted numerous San Francisco City Championships, and World Golf Hall of Famer Johnny Miller was a frequent player at the course in his youth while growing up in the area. Harding Park will be the sixth venue to host this event. Below is a rundown on the previous courses which have hosted this tournament:
LANGER CHASES THIRD STRAIGHT JACK NICKLAUS TROPHY AND ARNOLD PALMER AWARD: Bernhard Langer is on target to win a third consecutive Jack Nicklaus Trophy as the Player of the Year as well as the Arnold Palmer Award as the Champions Tour's leading money winner. Several players have won those awards in back-to-back years, but no player has won each of the honors three years in succession.
NEW FACES DOT CHARLES SCHWAB CUP FIELD: Prior to the AT&T Championship, 12 new players were expected to make their debuts in this event. That group includes Fred Couples, Tommy Armour III, David Frost, Michael Allen, Tom Pernice, Jr., Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia, Peter Senior, Corey Pavin, Chien-soon Lu, Olin Browne and David Peoples. Of the 12 players making their debut here, four own major championships on the PGA TOUR -- Couples (1992 Masters), Calcavecchia (1989 British Open), Lehman (1996 British Open), and Pavin (1995 U.S. Open). Lehman earned a spot last year but missed the event after his father (Tom) passed away.
Power RankingsFred Couples is rested and ready ahead of Harding Park this week, but it is enough to snag the No. 1 spot in Vartan Kupelian's top five? Power Rankings
KITE TO MAKE 11TH STRAIGHT APPEARANCE IN EVENT: Of the 30 players in this year's field, Tom Kite has the best current streak for consecutive starts in the tournament. Kite will be making his 11th consecutive appearance. That ranks him third (tie) on the all-time list for tournament starts. Hale Irwin(13) and Gil Morgan (12) are 1-2 followed by Kite, Jim Dentand Jim Colbert with 11. Kite is also looking to extend his streak for top-20 finishes on the money list to 11 straight years as well. He is currently 23rd on the 2010 money list and trails the 20th position by $78,337. Kite will need a yeoman's effort this week to move back into the top 20.
WHO ARE THE TOP PERFORMERS?: Tom Watson, a three-time winner of this event (2000, 2002 and 2005) and a runner-up in 2003, remains the leading money winner at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, with $1,922,000. Jim Thorpe, like Watson a three-time champion (2003, 2006 and 2007) is second, with $1,681,167, while Gil Morgan is third, with $1,402,750. Watson has seven top-10 finishes in eight appearances in the season-ending event and 29 of his 32 rounds have been below par. Tom Kite also owns seven top-10 finishes, with seven, two behind the all-time leader Hale Irwin.
LEADERS OF THE PACK: In the 20 previous championships, a player leading or tied for the lead heading into the final round has won 11 times. During the years 1990-93 (it was 54-hole event), three of four players who led or were tied for the lead after 36 holes posted victories. Since going to 72 holes in 1994, eight of 16 players who led or shared the lead after 54 holes have won, including five of the last eight winners -- Tom Watson (2002), Jim Thorpe (2003 and 2006), Andy Bean (2008) and John Cook (2009). Fourteen times in the history of the tournament a player has been in sole possession of the lead going into the final round and has won eight times.
CLOSE FINISHES UNCOMMON IN RECENT YEARS: When John Cook prevailed by five strokes over Russ Cochranlast year at the Sonoma Golf Club, it marked the fourth straight year the winner had won by multiple strokes. One year earlier, Andy Beanwon by nine strokes, and Jim Thorpe posted back-to-back victories in 2006 and 2007 by two and three strokes, respectively.
MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIPS WINNERS DOT FIELD: This year's field includes 12 major championship winners on the PGA TOUR. That group includes Tom Watson (1975, 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983 British Open; 1977 and 1981 Masters; 1982 U.S. Open), Bernhard Langer (1985 and 1993 Masters), Tom Kite (1992 U.S. Open), Nick Price (1992 and 1994 PGA Championship; 1994 British Open), Mark O'Meara (1998 Masters, 1998 British Open), Tom Lehman (1996 British Open), Larry Mize (1982 Masters), Corey Pavin (1995 U.S. Open), Fred Couples (1992 Masters), Jeff Sluman (1988 PGA Championship), Mark Calcavecchia (1989 British Open) and Tom Lehman (1996 British Open).
COUPLES COULD SET RECORD: Fred Couples could set a new Champions Tour record for most money won by a rookie should he win or finish solo second. Bruce Fleisher set the mark in 1999 when he earned $2,515,705. Couples comes into this tournament with $2,271,894.
SEVERAL STILL LOOKING FOR FIRST WINS IN 2010: With one event remaining, six 2009 champions, who are winless this year, still have the opportunity to pick up a victory. That group includes John Cook, Michael Allen, Tom Pernice, Jr., Jeff Sluman, Mike Reid and Jay Haas.
A STRONG FINISHING KICK: Only one player leading the money list going into the Charles Schwab Cup Championship has won the event -- Hale Irwin (1998). However, players leading the money list prior to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship have still gone on to claim the money title in 17 of 20 years. The exceptions came in 1991 (Mike Hill overtakes George Archer), 1995 (Jim Colbertovertakes Dave Stockton) and 1996 (Jim Colbert overtakes Hale Irwin).
MILLIONAIRES CLUB: A total of 11 players come into this week's Charles Schwab Cup Championship with earnings of over $1 million (prior to AT&T Championship). Last year, 13 players entered the season-ending tournament with seven-figure totals, and two more joined the club following the event.
KITE LEADS THE WAY: With 11 straight appearances in this tournament on his resume, Tom Kite is by far the leader in that category among the 30 players in the field. Loren Roberts, Jay Haas and Brad Bryant are playing in their sixth straight season-ending event and are second in that category. Tom Watson is second to Kite in appearances here with nine.
IT'S BEEN A RARITY: Since the tournament became a 72-hole affair in 1994, only seven players have posted four straight rounds in the 60s, and three of those won the event� Jim Thorpe (2007), Andy Bean (2008) and John Cook (2009). John Jacobs was the first in 2000, but he finished one stroke behind winner Tom Watson. Tom Kite became the second in 2003. However, Kite finished third, five strokes behind Thorpe. Last year, Russ Cochranand Brad Bryant had four straight in the 60s, but finished second and third, respectively.
JUST TWO FORMER WINNERS IN THE FIELD: This year's field includes only two players with titles in this event on their resume. Leading that group is Tom Watson, a three-time winner, (2000, 2002 and 2005). Joining Watson will be John Cook (2009).
PERNICE HAS BEEN MR. CONSISTENT: Although he has not won this year, Tom Pernice, Jr., comes into this tournament with eight consecutive top-10 finishes and nine in his 10 career starts on the Champions Tour. The lone exception came in his first start this year when he was T27 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Since that tournament, he has run off eight straight top-10s, including two runner-up efforts.