Champions Tour Update – January 25, 2017
LANGER WINS SHORTENED MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CHAMPIONSHIP AT HUALALAI
Bernhard Langer claimed his 30th career victory on the PGA Champions Tour after high winds forced the cancellation of the final round at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. Langer closed Friday’s second round with birdies on four of his last five holes, and his 36-hole total of 15-under-par (64-65) held up as the winning score over Fred Couples (-14) and Kirk Triplett (-13).
The victory came on his 33rd wedding anniversary with his wife, Vikki, who was in attendance along with two of Langer’s children. With the win, Langer moves into second place alone on the Tour’s all-time wins list, trailing only Hale Irwin (45). He has now won at least one event in 11 consecutive years on the Champions Tour, matching Irwin’s mark from 1995 to 2005.
The event was shortened to 36 holes due to heavy sustained winds of 40-plus miles per hour on Saturday, and Sunday’s forecast called for similar conditions. Prior to this weekend, the last tournament shortened to 36 holes was the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in April 2015, and the last round cancelled due to wind was the first round of the 2010 Chubb Classic.
INSIDE LANGER’S 30 WINS
Seven of Langer’s 30 victories have come in major championships, which is tied with Hale Irwin for second most in Tour history (Jack Nicklaus leads with eight). Langer and Nicklaus are the only players to win four different PGA Champions Tour majors, and Langer will look to be the first to win the career grand slam at this year’s KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
Of his 30 wins, Langer has won by one stroke 10 times and by playoff five times. By contrast, he has won by six strokes or more six times, including a 13-stroke win at the 2014 Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex.
Langer’s career includes wins at 14 of the 26 tournaments on this year’s Champions Tour schedule. He has played in 10 of the 12 other tournaments (the JAPAN AIRLINES Championship is new in 2017 and he did not play in the inaugural PowerShares QQQ Championship in 2016), and he has a second- or third-place finish in seven of those 10 tournaments. The three outliers on Langer’s resume are the Principal Charity Classic (Appearances: 4, Best: T10, 2012), American Family Insurance Championship (Appearances: 1, Best: T13, 2016), and the Dominion Charity Classic (Appearances: 1, Best: T6, 2016).
TOMS FINISHES TIED FOR FOURTH IN PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS DEBUT
Fifteen days after he turned 50 years old, David Toms carded a 3-under-par 69 in his first round on the PGA Champions Tour. He followed it with a second-round 63, the lowest round of the tournament, and improved 16 spots to finish T4 at 12-under. Toms is expected to play in the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida, February 6-12.
COUPLES, WALDORF OPEN SEASON WITH TOP-FIVE FINISHES
Making just his second start in the last 11 months, Fred Couples recorded consecutive rounds of 65 to finish second. It was his third runner-up finish and sixth top-10 at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. He missed most of the 2016 season with a back injury, and his only other start since last February was a 37th-place finish at the PowerShares QQQ Championship in October.
Defending champion Duffy Waldorf carded an opening-round 64 and shared the lead with Langer and Marco Dawson. He shot 68 on Saturday and finished tied for fourth with Toms, Lee Janzen and Olin Browne.
The PGA Champions Tour schedule resumes in two weeks with the first full-field event of the season, the Allianz Championship (February 6-12). Jose Maria Olazabel is expected to make his Champions Tour debut, and he’ll compete against a field that includes Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, John Daly and 2017 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Ian Woosnam. The tournament has been decided by a playoff three of the last five years, and in 2016 Esteban Toledo prevailed on the third playoff hole over Billy Andrade.
15.96% – Bernhard Langer’s winning percentage since joining the PGA Champions Tour in 2007 (30 wins in 188 starts). By comparison, Hale Irwin’s 45 wins spanned 1995-2007, and his winning percentage in that time was 15.36% (45 wins in 293 starts).
17 – Langer has led the Charles Schwab Cup standings after the last 17 tournaments on the PGA Champions Tour. He has led ever since he won the Regions Tradition on May 22, 2016.
18 – Number of times Hale Irwin has bettered his age on PGA Champions Tour. Last weekend in Hualalai, the 71-year-old accomplished the feat twice, shooting 69 on Thursday and 70 on Friday.
QUOTES TO NOTE
“It’s very special because it’s maybe my favorite tournament out here. To start the year off in this fashion, just winning the Schwab Cup last year and now my caddie’s wearing the Schwab Cup jersey again, it can’t be much better. And then to have won on the day when we celebrate our 33rd anniversary, I have my kids and my wife (Vikki) with me, that doesn’t happen very often. It’s quite emotional for me.” – Bernhard Langer, after winning the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
“If you happen to hit a bad shot, just look around where you are and it kind of puts it in perspective. And the tournament that you’re playing in, the people that you’re playing against are people that I’ve looked up to my whole career in golf. So it just kind of puts it all in perspective really when you don’t hit such a great shot. We’re all competing, want to do our best and we’re all lucky to be here.” – David Toms, on beginning his PGA Champions Tour career at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
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