May 23, 2011
Vartan Kupelian, PGATOUR.COM Contributor
Editor's note: Vartan Kupelian is the Champions Tour Insider and a PGATOUR.COM Contributor. Each week, Kupelian will size up the field and provide his top 5 players going into the tournament, based on factors such as the player's strengths, the course setup, recent performances, etc.
The Senior PGA Championship returns to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville this week where Tom Lehman will defend the title.
The inaugural Senior PGA Championship was played in 1937 at Augusta National Golf Club and later moved to Florida venues through 2000. From 1982 to 2000, the championship was held at PGA National Golf Club in Palm Beach Gardens. The Senior PGA went on the road the following year.
Hale Irwin won his fourth Senior PGA title at Valhalla in 2004 with a final hole birdie to outlast Jay Haas, who was making his Champions Tour debut. Only Sam Snead, with six victories between 1964 and 1973, has won the Senior PGA more often than Irwin.
Both Irwin, who also won three straight between 1996 and 1998, and Haas are in the field this year. Haas is also on the short list of multiple winners. He is the last golfer to win the title twice, in 2006 and 2008.
Lehman won a three-man playoff last year at Colorado Golf Club against Fred Couples and David Frost. Lehman's par on the first extra hole was good enough to land his first Champions Tour major.
|Power Rankings: Senior PGA Championship|
| || ||Tom |
|The defending champion has already added this year's Regions Traditions title to his haul of Champions Tour majors and has built a huge lead (734 points) in the Charles Schwab Cup points race.|
| || ||Michael |
|Won the 2009 Senior PGA Championship in his Champions Tour debut and has four career top 6 finishes in majors, including fourth earlier this month at Regions Tradition. He's had three straight top 5 finishes, four of last five, in all events.|
| || ||Nick |
|Second in the Charles Schwab Cup points list, he has been out of the top 7 only twice in eight starts this year. Price is second in the All-Around statistic and third in total driving as his standout year continues.|
| || ||John |
|Joins Lehman as a multiple winner in 11 and is hovering near the top of many key stats, including Greens in Regulation (77.19 percent), Driving Accuracy (81.58 percent) but needs a rebound from T25 at Regions Tradition.|
| || ||Kenny |
|What better place for Perry to post his breakthrough victory than in his native Kentucky on a golf course he knows extremely well? Perry has plenty of history at Valhalla, losing the 1996 PGA Championship in a playoff but soaring at the 2008 Ryder Cup.|
The Champions Tour Power Rankings for this week's Senior PGA Championship: