Power Rankings: Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn

October 08, 2012
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.


Mark Wiebe warmed up for this week's title defense at the Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn with a solid third-place finish Sunday at the SAS Championship.

The Greater Hickory Classic is the second-to-last full-field event on the Champions Tour schedule. That means the race for the Charles Schwab Cup and a place in the season-ending top 30 tournament is in its stretch drive. The Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be played Oct. 29-Nov. 4 in Scottsdale.

Wiebe shot 10-under 206 to finish three strokes behind winner Bernhard Langer, who posted his second victory of the Champions Tour season. Jay Don Blake, another player with a hot hand, was second, two behind Langer.

Wiebe's victory at Rock Barn was his first Champions Tour victory since 2008. He defeated Monday-qualifier James Mason in a playoff. Both players birdied the 18th hole of the final round to tie at 19-under. Wiebe shot 65 in regulation to set up his playoff victory. It denied Fred Funk's bid to win with a closing 62. Funk and Chip Beck tied for third, one shot out of the playoff.

Power Rankings: Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn
Rank Player   Comment
An easy pick here. Langer's victory at the SAS Championship moved him to the top spot on the Money List and into pole position for the Charles Schwab Cup's stretch drive. The victory was the 16th of his Champions Tour career and moved him into the top 15 all-time.
Returns to action after sitting out the SAS Championship and finds himself looking up at Langer in the Charles Schwab Cup race. He's 69 points behind the new leader. Finished tied for third and tied for fourth in his last two Champions Tour starts.
Jay Don
Pursued Langer to the finish at Prestonwood before settling for second. That gives Blake a runner-up and a victory (Boeing Classic) in his last three starts. He's sixth on the money list. Don't forget -- he won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship a year ago.
Coming off his fifth straight top-10 finish. Still, he needs two more solid finishes in an injury-interrupted season to qualify for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship. He has moved up to No. 36 on the Money List from No. 89 before his return at the 3M Championship. He is $80,930 shy of the top 30.
He closed with 10-under-par 62 in the final round last year at Rock Barn and narrowly missed the playoff won by Wiebe. There's got to be some residual good feelings from that and he contended at the SAS Championship, finishing T4 after a late slip.

This week's Power Rankings for the Champions Tour's Greater Hickory Classic at Rock Barn: