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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Next, the Seniors

Champions Tour logoThe Champions Tour may lack a bit of the excitement that the ladies generate lately -- the battle for #1 on this tour has become a bit one-sided as the season wears on -- but it's been anything but boring this year.

When Fred Couples joined the Tour in January, things got off to a rolling start as Freddie came in 2nd (behind Tom Watson) in his first event, then rattled off 3 straight victories to nab first place in the Charles Schwab Cup race. But Freddie cooled off after his great showing at the Masters, and the player to beat became Bernhard Langer. Langer has 5 wins, including the absolutely amazing feat of winning back-to-back majors (Senior British Open and U.S. Senior Open) in consecutive weeks; that's one of the quirks of the Champions Tour schedule.

Here are the current standings in the Schwab Cup competition. Points are awarded for wins and Top 10s, so this shows the player, his points, wins (in bold italics), and Top 10s:
  1. Bernhard Langer, 2,791, 5, 10
  2. Fred Couples, 2,216, 3, 10
  3. Fred Funk, 1,513, 1, 6
  4. Tom Lehman, 1,420, 1, 7
  5. Nick Price, 1,246, 2, 10
  6. John Cook, 1,240, 0, 9
  7. Russ Cochran, 1,037, 1, 8
  8. Tommy Armour III, 943, 0, 9
  9. David Frost, 870, 1, 7
    Chien Soon Lu, 870, 0, 6
Note that Funk and Lehman only have one win each, yet are ranked ahead of Price with 2 wins. That's because their wins are majors -- Funk won the JELD-WEN Tradition and Lehman the Senior PGA Championship. You have to remember that the Champions Tour has 5 majors. (The fifth major, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, is played the second week in October.)

The money list looks a little different once you get past Langer and Couples:
  1. Bernhard Langer $2,083,575
  2. Fred Couples $1,830,292
  3. Nick Price $1,261,312
  4. Russ Cochran $1,170,061
  5. Fred Funk $1,167,880
  6. John Cook $1,149,795
  7. Tom Lehman $1,019,470
  8. Dan Forsman $965,637
  9. Tommy Armour III $963,001
  10. Loren Roberts $929,016
Cochran is ranked #4 because he won the new event in Korea last week, and that has the biggest purse on Tour.

There are only 5 events left on the schedule, so Freddie will have to work really hard if he wants to catch Bernhard. That's really the biggest question left to be settled this year. If Freddie could manage to win the Constellation next month and play well in the other 4, he just might do it. But with those two majors to his credit, Bernhard still looks like a shoe-in for Player of the Year.

The drama on the Champions Tour isn't done yet. The next month should be plenty exciting, whether you've been keeping up with it so far this year or not.

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