10 storylines to watch on 2023 PGA TOUR Champions
January 10, 2023
By Connor Stange , PGATOUR.COM
- January 10, 2023
- All eyes turn to Bernhard Langer in 2023 as he seeks a record-tying 45th title on PGA TOUR Champions. (Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
As PGA TOUR Champions begins its 44th year, here are 10 storylines to watch from the opening tee shot at Hualalai in January to the final putt in Phoenix in November.
The 28-event season includes 25 regular-season tournaments and three Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs events. In 2023, players will compete for more than $66 million in total prize money, the highest in PGA TOUR Champions history.
Langer eyes all-time wins record
Entering his 16th year since debuting on PGA TOUR Champions, 44-time winner Bernhard Langer is one victory away from tying Hale Irwin’s all-time wins record. Langer, who turns 66 years old on August 27, already holds the top three spots on the Champions Tour’s oldest winners list. With his two victories in 2022, Langer extended his streak to 10 consecutive multi-win seasons. With a multi-win season in 2023, he would become the winningest player in PGA TOUR Champions history.
Climbing the charts
In addition to Langer, seven other active players have at least 10 wins on PGA TOUR Champions entering the season. Of those seven players, four of them added to their win totals in 2022:
• Fred Couples (14 wins) closed his season in style with a final-round 60 and a six-stroke victory at the SAS Championship. It snapped a winless streak of 5 years, 3 months, 21 days for Couples.
• Miguel Angel Jimenez (13 wins) notched a three-win season for the first time on PGA TOUR Champions in 2022. Jimenez, who has four consecutive multi-win seasons, has at least one victory in each of his eight seasons on PGA TOUR Champions.
• Steve Stricker (11 wins) won four times last season, marking his fourth consecutive multi-win season. Stricker has won 23.4% of his starts on PGA TOUR Champions, the most of any player with 10 or more wins.
• Jerry Kelly (11 wins) tallied three wins en route to a No. 3 finish in the final 2022 Charles Schwab Cup standings. Kelly, who has three consecutive multi-win seasons, has won at least once in each of his five seasons on PGA TOUR Champions.
Most wins on PGA TOUR Champions by active players
Overall rank Player Wins Age* 2 Bernhard Langer 44 65 T14 Jay Haas 18 69 T17 Fred Couples 14 63 T21 Miguel Angel Jimenez 13 58 T24 Tom Lehman 12 63 T26 Steve Stricker 11 55 T26 Jerry Kelly 11 56 T26 Scott McCarron 11 57
* Age as of Jan. 1, 2023
Reigning Charles Schwab Cup winner Steven Alker enters his second full season, and third season overall, on PGA TOUR Champions. Alker won four times in 2022 and led the Charles Schwab Cup standings for the final 21 weeks of the 27-week season. Since debuting on the Champions Tour in August 2021, Alker has five wins, 16 top-threes and 27 top-10s in 33 starts. He looks to become the first player to win back-to-back Charles Schwab Cups since Bernhard Langer won three consecutive Cups from 2014 to 2016.
Steven Alker cooked up a Schwab Cup title. 🔥👨🍳 pic.twitter.com/eZqjD0LvhG— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) December 8, 2022
Harrington’s sophomore season
After finishing No. 2 in the final Charles Schwab Cup standings last season, Padraig Harrington looks to claim PGA TOUR Champions’ top prize as he enters his second full season in 2023. Harrington won four times in 2022 and posted 10 top-three finishes in 19 starts. He finished first or second in four of the five 72-hole events on PGA TOUR Champions, including victories at the U.S. Senior Open and the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Return to the winner’s circle?
Several notable players went winless in 2022 after hoisting trophies during the 2020-21 season:
• K.J. Choi finished runner-up twice during his second season on PGA TOUR Champions in 2022.
• David Toms managed nine top-10s in 2022, including a T2 finish at the Mitsubishi Electric Classic.
• 2020-21 Rookie of the Year Jim Furyk recorded four top-10s, highlighted by a third-place finish at his own event, in his second season. Furyk, who won three times in 2020-21, ended the 2022 season on a string of five consecutive top-15 finishes.
• Stephen Ames earned four top-three finishes in 2022, including runner-up honors at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
• Alex Cejka notched a pair of runner-up finishes in 2022 after winning two majors as a rookie in 2021.
• 2024 Presidents Cup International Team captain Mike Weir notched a pair of top-10 finishes last season, highlighted by a T2 at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open.
• 2017 Charles Schwab Cup champion Kevin Sutherland tallied two top-10s in 2022 after multi-win seasons in 2019 and 2020-21.
• World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els managed 13 top-10 finishes last season, third-most among all PGA TOUR Champions players. After winning twice as a rookie in 2020-21, his best finish in 2022 was T2 at the PURE Insurance Championship.
Player (2022 Schwab Cup finish) Age* Wins^ Last win (Reverse chronological order) K.J. Choi (#16) 52 1 2021 PURE Insurance Championship David Toms (#15) 55 2 2021 Ascension Charity Classic Jim Furyk (#26) 52 3 2021 U.S. Senior Open Stephen Ames (#8) 58 2 2021 Principal Charity Classic Alex Cejka (#10) 52 2 2021 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Mike Weir (#39) 52 1 2021 Insperity Invitational Kevin Sutherland (#27) 58 5 2021 Cologuard Classic Ernie Els (#9) 53 2 2020 SAS Championship
* Age as of Jan. 1, 2023
^ Total wins on PGA TOUR Champions
Each year, PGA TOUR Champions welcomes a new class of rookies when players turn 50 years old. Here are some of the notable newcomers in 2023:
• 2009 Open Championship winner Stewart Cink turns 50 on May 21. Cink won twice during the 2020-21 PGA TOUR season, most recently at the 2021 RBC Heritage for his eighth win on TOUR.
• Three-time PGA TOUR winner Boo Weekley turns 50 on July 23. A member of the 2008 U.S. Ryder Cup team, Weekley’s last TOUR win came at the 2013 Charles Schwab Challenge.
• 1997 Open Championship winner Justin Leonard, who turned 50 on June 15, 2022, made four starts last season, including a T14 at the Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS.
• Four-time PGA TOUR winner Notah Begay III, who turned 50 on September 14, made two starts last season.
• Richard Green and Tim O’Neal, who earned two of the five PGA TOUR Champions cards handed out at Final Stage of Q-School in December, will also be rookies in 2023.
"Q-School is never fun."— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) December 10, 2022
However, earning a card for the 2023 season is!
Tim O'Neal earns full status on PGA TOUR Champions for the first time since turning 50 in August. 👏 pic.twitter.com/flr1z5QQ57
Seeking their first win
In addition to the rookies, several second-year players and veterans are still looking for their first win on PGA TOUR Champions, including five who finished in the top 36 of the final Charles Schwab Cup standings last season:
Player (2022 Schwab Cup finish) Seasons Starts Best finish on PGA TOUR Champions Ken Duke (#22) 3 82 T2 (2019 Sanford International) Robert Karlsson (#24) 2 52 2nd (three times) Brian Gay (#30) 1 16 4th (2022 Chubb Classic) Y.E. Yang (#34) 1 25 2nd (2022 Ascension Charity Classic) Tim Petrovic (#36) 6 126 2nd (10 times)
Return to Morocco
Among the highlights of the 2023 schedule is PGA TOUR Champions’ trip to Morocco for the Trophy Hassan II (Feb. 9-11). The Champions Tour last competed in North Africa in 2020, when Brett Quigley won the Morocco Champions at Samanah Golf Club in Marrakech. This year’s Trophy Hassan II will be contested at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat. It is the first of three international trips this season, along with Wales (The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex) and Canada (Shaw Charity Classic).
Introducing The Galleri Classic
The lone new event on the 2023 schedule is The Galleri Classic (March 24-26) at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California. It will be the first time PGA TOUR Champions has hosted a tournament in the Coachella Valley since 1993. The Galleri Classic, named after GRAIL’s multi-cancer early detection test, will benefit cancer-related causes.
During an eight-tournament span from mid-May to late July, PGA TOUR Champions will play each of its five major championships:
• The Regions Tradition is the first of two majors in the month of May, as Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama hosts the event for the seventh consecutive time.
• The 83rd KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship will be the first tournament contested at Fields Ranch East, located near the PGA of America headquarters in Frisco, Texas.
• The 43rd U.S. Senior Open Championship heads to SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wisconsin for the first time.
• The Kaulig Companies Championship, formerly known as the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, returns to Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio for the fifth consecutive year.
• The final major of the season is The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, which will be played at Royal Porthcawl Golf Club in Bridgend, Wales for the first time since 2017.
Dates Senior major Host course (Location) May 11-14 Regions Tradition Greystone Golf & Country Club (Birmingham, Alabama) May 25-28 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Fields Ranch East at PGA Frisco (Frisco, Texas) June 29-July 2 U.S. Senior Open Championship SentryWorld (Stevens Point, Wisconsin) July 13-16 Kaulig Companies Championship Firestone Country Club (Akron, Ohio) July 27-30 The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex Royal Porthcawl Golf Club (Bridgend, Wales)