This event will be played on the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain, which is in Scottsdale AZ. If this course sounds familiar, that's because it was the home of the Tradition for a dozen years (1989-2001). Billy Andrade is the defending champion of this event, although Bernhard Langer is the two-time defending champion of the Schwab Cup itself.
And Bernhard would have already locked up his third straight Cup if it weren't for this new playoff format. However, he's #1 on the points list even after the reshuffle this week, so he's the favorite to win the yearlong race again.
However, I'm not picking the winner of the yearlong race. No, I'm picking the winner of the Schwab Cup Championship event, and that could be a very different matter. We've seen it happen plenty of times in the FedExCup Playoffs, haven't we?
As with the FedExCup, if any of the Top5 win this event they take the Cup. So, with that caveat in mind, here are my "5 to Watch" for this week's Champions Tour event:
- Scott McCarron is #2 in the points list, primarily because he's on a roll. In his last five events he's gone runner-up in a playoff, T10, T30, T6 and won in a playoff. He has hit his stride at just the right time, and I won't be surprised if his go-for-broke mentality gets him in the winner's circle this week (as it has twice this year already). And of course, being #2, if he wins he takes the whole thing.
- Colin Montgomerie is #3 in the points list. He hasn't played quite as well as McCarron but his last five events are a win in a playoff, T35, T7, runner-up and T16. Again, if he wins this week he wins it all.
- Joe Durant is #4 in the points list and is arguably playing the best of any player without a win in the last few weeks. Let's go back SIX weeks and look at his finishes: 4, T28, T10, T7, T6 and T10. Durant, like Monty, has a win this year, so he also looks to be on form.
- Tom Pernice Jr. is #8 and has one win this year... but that win was the first Playoff event! His last three events are T9, the win and T13. I could see him doing it again this week.
- And my flier is Tom Byrum. No wins this year, #11 in the points list and hasn't been particularly consistent this season... but he must have found something. He has a T3 and a runner-up in a playoff in his last three starts. A little confidence can do some seriously good things to a player's game, and Tom just may make his first Champions Tour win the Tour's Championship.
- What about Langer? He's #1, has a win and three runner-ups in his last six starts, and four wins overall this year. But I'm a bit concerned about that knee injury. It may turn out to be nothing -- he did finish T6 this past week -- but T6 isn't a win and that's what I'm interested in here.
- What about Jimenez? The Most Interesting Golfer in the World is #5, has one win and seven more Top4s this season. But he hasn't played well in the playoffs this far, and I'm afraid he may have tired himself out just before the big events.
Of course, I don't have any money riding on this, either. I'm not that stupid. ;-)