SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In his previous golf life, Bernhard Langer won 42 times on the European Tour and bagged a pair of Green Jackets. Tom Lehman won five times on the PGA TOUR, claimed a Claret Jug and came famously close in several more majors.
Outstanding stuff. Yet Is it possible they're even better players today?
Langer and Lehman have dominated the Champions Tour since 2009 and are the hottest hands on the 50-and-over circuit coming to this week's season finale, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Langer won the Schwab Cup in 2010 and Lehman won it last year, and barring an improbable set of circumstances at Desert Mountain Club's Cochise Course, one of them will hoist the Cup again.
Hard to argue that they're not playing their best golf, ever.
"When you watch them play, they play as well as they did when they were 35 years old," Fred Couples said Wednesday. "I honestly believe that."
The 55-year-old German and the 53-year-old Minnesotan won't be so blunt to agree, but the numbers say it for them. In the last four years the two have combined to win 18 of the Tour's 100 events -- almost one out of every five. Though Loren Roberts won the Schwab Cup in 2009, Langer had the most wins with four. Langer then won five in 2010 while rolling to the Cup.
Lehman had his big year last year with three wins and the $1 million bonus, and this year picked up a major title at the Regions Tradition. He trails Langer by 211 points in the Schwab Cup standings and will need a strong week in his now-hometown Scottsdale to become the first back-to-back Schwab Cup winner, but has no doubt it's possible.
"I have a pretty strong belief that my best golf is good enough to get the job done," Lehman said. "It's just a matter of whether you can pull that best golf out this week."
About the only thing the two haven't won in their four-year run of dominance is the season finale. In a combined six starts, only Langer has a top-3 finish, a T3 in 2010.
"My goal is to play great this week and contend for the tournament," said Langer, who lost last week to David Frost in a playoff at the AT&T Championship. "What I am trying to do is play a great four rounds of golf here. Hopefully win the tournament and if I can play great this week, then hopefully I can win the Charles Schwab Cup. If I play rubbish then I'm going to depend on help from others."
Rubbish? That hasn't been in Langer's bag for a while. In 19 events this year he has two wins (3M Championship, SAS Championship) and five seconds, and a remarkable 16 top 10s. His worst effort is a T17 at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic.
"He has had a fabulous year," said Chapman, the longshot third possibility in the Schwab Cup winning scenarios. "How many top 10s he's had is ridiculous.
"I think the long putter has helped him, it's a well-known fact that he had problems with the putter, and now with the long one it's just sort of knitted everything into place for him."
We'll see if things can fall into place for one more week for Langer. If it's not him, look first for Lehman.