The Front Nine: Age just a number for 2017 winners
October 06, 2017
By Bob McClellan, PGATOUR.COM
- Tom Lehman won the Tucson Conquistadores Classic just two weeks after turning 58. (Getty Images)
For years PGA TOUR Champions was ruled by the younger crowd.
Coming into this season nearly 85 percent of tournament winners in Champions history have been between the ages of 50-55.
Bernhard Langer has been busy changing that perception for the past few years, but he hasn’t been the only one in 2017.
Nine of the 22 events this season have been won by players 56 and over. Langer, who is now 60, has won five times. Fred Couples, who turned 58 on Tuesday, has won twice. Tom Lehman won two weeks after his 58th birthday, and Kenny Perry won the U.S. Senior Open at the age of 56.
If not for Scott McCarron’s late rally past Langer at the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, the majors would have been a clean sweep by the 56-and-over set – four for Langer and the one for Perry.
Langer has shown the way for everyone on PGA TOUR Champions. His fitness level is remarkable, and his competitive desire is unparalleled. His peers are realizing they can win well into their 50s, too.
“That man is truly inspiring,” rookie Jerry Kelly said about Langer after the conclusion of the PURE Insurance Championship, Langer’s fifth victory of 2017. “I mean, I told him the other day I've got so much respect for what he's doing. Forget what he's done, he's doing it.”
2. Capt. Stricker’s return delayed. Victorious Presidents Cup captain Steve Stricker originally had planned to play in the SAS Championship but withdrew on Friday. The rookie hasn’t played on PGA TOUR Champions since the 3M Championship concluded on Aug. 6. He has a runner-up finish, three T3s, a T8 and a T13. With just the six events under his belt, Stricker is 28th on the Schwab Cup rankings and is expected to participate in the playoffs.
3. Standing on Principal. Principal Financial Group Inc. announced on Sept. 25 that it has renewed its sponsorship of the Principal Charity Classic through 2023. This year’s event, the first victory for Brandt Jobe, raised a record $3.6 million for Iowa children’s charities. Held in Des Moines, the Principal Charity Classic is one of the best-attended events on PGA TOUR Champions and the crowds enjoy the action. That has made it a favorite of the players, who enjoy the buzz, especially over the final holes there.
4. Jimenez off the radar. Miguel Angel Jimenez, Schwab Cup playoff standing firmly in hand at No. 5, will skip his fourth consecutive event when he misses the SAS Championship. Jimenez has played twice on the European Tour in the interim, at the Omega European Masters, where he made the cut, and at last week’s British Masters, where he did not make it to the weekend. The Spaniard has played in 16 events on PGA TOUR Champions and finished in the top 25 every time. He has nine top 10s in his past 14 starts, including a runner-up at the last event he will have played in before the playoff, the Shaw Charity Classic.
5. Jesper? Yes sir: Jesper Parnevik went the first 16 events without a top 10, but the Swede posted T5s at the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship and the PURE Insurance Championship to vault from 58th in the Charles Schwab Cup playoff standings to a solid 44th heading into next week’s SAS Championship. He has shot in the 60s in eight of his past 12 rounds, including a T32 at the Shaw Charity Classic and a T30 at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship. Parnevik shot in the 60s in only seven of his first 45 rounds on PGA TOUR Champions this season. He went 68-69-69 at the PURE Insurance Championship.
6. Browne-y points: Olin Browne has only seven top 25s this season, but three have come in his past five events. He’s coming of his best finish of 2017, a solo fourth at the PURE Insurance Championship. Browne closed with solid rounds of 66 and 68 to shoot 11 under and bank $120,000 to vault to 38th in the Schwab Cup standings. Browne was third in driving accuracy, T3 in greens in regulation and third in putting over the three rounds at Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach. He has been one of the most accurate drivers all season, but his putting is what led to his big finish.
7. Triplett trending down. Kirk Triplett’s spirited duel with Kenny Perry at this year’s U.S. Senior Open was one of the highlights on PGA TOUR Champions this season. But Triplett hasn’t made the highlight reels much since. His best finish in his past five events is a T19 at the Shaw Charity Classic. He’s coming off his worst finish of the year, a missed cut at the PURE Insurance Championship. He had six bogeys and a quadruple bogey en route to an opening-round 80. Triplett has shot 72 or worse in five of his past 11 rounds as he heads to the SAS Championship. Still, he sits comfortably at No. 11 in the Schwab Cup standings so there is time for him to regain his form.
8. Tweet of the Week.
9. Number of the week – 50 percent. Kevin Sutherland has finished in the top 10 in 37 of 74 career events on PGA TOUR Champions, which is exactly half. He has yet to register his first victory, though no one will be surprised if he gets one in the season’s final four events. He is in third in the Schwab Cup standings, easily the highest ranking of any player without a win. In fact, everyone else in top 10 has won at least once.