In its third year hosting the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Desert Mountain Club’s Cochise Course in Scottsdale, Ariz., continues to bring together the best of the Champions Tour, with the top 30 players on the current season’s money list earning their way to the championship.
The $2.5 million tournament decides not only that week’s champion, but is also the culmination of the season-long points race to determine the Charles Schwab Cup champion.
A five-time winner in 2014, Langer led the Charles Schwab Cup race all but one week, when Colin Montgomerie took the lead briefly following his U.S. Senior Open victory in July.
Langer began the AT&T Championship, the final full-field event of the season, needing to be 833 points ahead of Montgomerie at the close of play to clinch the Charles Schwab Cup. The 74 points he earned for his tie for sixth gave him the insurmountable 845-point lead to close the gap.
With the pre-tournament focus on Langer in Scottsdale, it was Tom Pernice, Jr. who prevailed at the season-ending tournament, winning his second title of the year in a dramatic finish, defeating Jay Haas in a sudden death playoff that lasted four holes.
Kenny Perry, the 2013 Charles Schwab Cup champion, finished third, while Langer and Montgomerie tied for fourth, earning identical points to keep the winning margin at 845 points. The leading rookie, one of nine in the field at Scottsdale, was Wes Short, Jr., who shot four rounds in the 60s and finished tied for seventh.
Langer was awarded the $1 million annuity that goes with the trophy. Montgomerie was awarded $500,000, while Haas ($300,000), Perry ($200,000) and Pernice ($100,000) also earned bonus money.
“It’s one of the goals all of us have when we start the season,” said Langer. “Everybody wants to win the Charles Schwab Cup because it means you were the most consistent or the best player.”
Langer’s 4,152 total points for the year were the second highest in history, behind Tom Watson’s 4,751 points in 2003.
“You’re not going to win it just winning a major or two and you’re not going to win it just having five or ten top-10s; it’s got to take a lot of good golf throughout the whole season,” said 2014 champion, Bernhard Langer, who was able to determine his win before the season finale – a feat that has only happened twice. Hale Irwin, a 45-time Champions Tour winner, claimed the Charles Schwab Cup with three events remaining in 2002.
“Not too many people have one of these (Charles Schwab Cup) and to be able to say that I did it once in my career is a dream come true, at 53, to finally achieve something pretty significant in my golfing career.”
Earlier this year, the PGA TOUR and Charles Schwab together announced an historic 20-year agreement, the longest marketing agreement in the history of the PGA TOUR, which includes sponsorship of the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship and the season-long Charles Schwab Cup.
The season-long race is poised to deliver a finish with heightened drama in 2015, with more players in the hunt for the Champions Tour’s most coveted prize.
After ten events of the 2015 season, a record six different players had already held the top spot in the standings, which points toward a crowded sprint to the finish line on Nov. 8.
Among the top hopefuls to make their first appearance in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, Kevin Sutherland may be a player to watch. Sutherland recorded an all-time Champions Tour record 59 (13-under) in his rookie year at the 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Although he has yet to secure a win on the Champions Tour, Sutherland has posted two runner-up finishes this year – at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and a playoff loss to Jeff Maggert at the Regions Tradition.
Other hopeful first-timers climbing the ranks due to victories this season include Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Janzen and Ian Woosnam.
Langer, the current Charles Schwab Cup champion, looks to return to the Desert Mountain Club, joining other past Charles Schwab Cup champions including Kenny Perry, who was emotional after his triumph in 2013.