Five Things to Know: Oasis Championship
February 05, 2019
By Bret Lasky, PGATOUR.COM
- February 05, 2019
- Fred Couples is making his second start at The Old Course at Broken Sound. (Getty Images)
The season started in Hawaii with a thrilling come-from-behind win from Tom Lehman and then two off weeks. The Tour returns stateside this week with the second event of the season, the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. It's a stacked full field headlined by Boca Raton's own Bernhard Langer, who has seven top 10s at Broken Sound in 11 starts. Mark Calcavecchia is the defending champion this week. He posted rounds of 64-66-70 last year to win by two over Langer. Here are five things to keep an eye on this week.
1. Fred Couples showing signs of bigger schedule
During a post round interview in Hawaii, Couples told Golf Channel - and the world - that he wanted to play more and said he was targeting 12 events. It seems he's on target to play more than the seven events he did in 2018 as he is in the field at the Oasis Championship for just the second time. He played at The Old Course at Broken Sound in 2017 and finished T6. He hit some really impressive shots that year including a hole-out on the par-4 10th. Couples has had a rough go the last three years due in large part to injury, but he reiterated numerous times in Hawaii that if he is feeling healthy, he wants to play. The last time Couples made more than 12 starts on PGA TOUR Champions was 2013 when he made 15.
2. Bernhard Langer is the hometown favorite
This is always a favorite stop for Langer as he gets to stay in his own home this week. Last year, he finished runner up to Mark Calcavecchia with rounds of 66-66-70. His lone win at The Old Course at Broken Sound came in 2010 when he holed a bunker shot on the 18th hole to clip John Cook and Joey Sindelar. He has a 68.70 scoring average in 11 starts in Boca Raton. The 61 year old opened the season with rounds of 70-65-67 in Hawaii for a third place finish so he is showing zero signs of slowing down. He currently stands seven wins shy of Hale Irwin's all-time wins record of 45 and he'd love to add a second trophy in Boca.
3. First full seasons for Chris DiMarco and Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke and Chris DiMarco both turned 50 last year and made their debuts on PGA TOUR Champions midway through the season. Both made six starts. Success was hard to come by as they got acclimated to the next chapter of their careers. Neither was able to record a top 10 finish. Clarke notched two top 30 finishes at the Boeing Classic and the Shaw Charity Classic. Both start anew this week at The Old Course at Broken Sound after getting a taste of the tour last year.
4. José María Olazábal in field to start year
José María Olazábal will start his season in Boca Raton as he did the last two years. The two-time Masters winner (1994, 1999) played the early part of the 2018 season, but didn't compete after the Senior PGA Championship in May. He made eight starts with a T3 finish at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf in April. Ian Woosnam, another exempt World Golf Hall of Fame member, will make his first start of the year. Woosnam, who won the 1991 Masters, has played PGA TOUR Champions since 2008 and has one win in 2015. Retief Goosen, who will enter the Hall of Fame in June, will make his debut this week.
5. Brad Faxon in the field
Brad Faxon will make his seventh start at The Old Course at Broken Sound this week. He has played each of the last three years. The 8-time PGA TOUR winner last won on PGA TOUR Champions in 2013. Faxon played in a career low six events in 2018, mostly early in the season. He played in the Florida swing and then the west coast swing before ending his season in July with The Senior Open Championship.
Four of the five that made it through PGA TOUR Champions Qualifying School in December are in the field this week. Gibby Gilbert III, who made the 70-footer heard around the golf world, Skip Kendall, Cliff Kresge and Greg Kraft will start their season this week. The only qualifier not starting this week is Stephen Leaney, who doesn't turn 50 until March 10.