The Charles Schwab Cup Championship – the tournament not the overall season prize of the same name – has had an interesting history since it began in 2001. Go ahead, tell me who is the only three-time tournament winner of this event? Or who were the three winners when the CSCC was held at Desert Mountain’s Cochise Course in 2012, 2014 and 2015?
Yes, most people would never guess that the guy who pulled off the hat trick was Jim Thorpe (2006, 2007 and 2008). And while they might get Tom Lehman in 2012 at Desert Mountain, certainly Tom Pernice Jr. in 2014 and Billy Andrade last year are far lesser known players.
So what can we expect next week (Friday-Sunday) from the season-ending Champions Tour event that always has had a little trouble gaining traction? Not that the overall winner of the $1 million annuity that goes to the winner of the actual cup has been quite as anonymous — Bernhard Langer (three times), Lehman (twice), Tom Watson (twice), Hale Irwin (twice) and Loren Roberts (twice).
Well, for one thing we’ve got 36 players this time around instead of 30, and that’s a good thing if for no other reason than variety. Upping the number of players in the final field is part of the new playoff system that includes the last two tournaments on the Champions Tour’s schedule for 2016 – the PowerShares QQQ Championship two weeks ago and last week’s Dominion Charity Classic.
As a result of that, we’ll get to see Mike Goodes, Joey Sindelar, Tommy Armour III, Carlos Franco and Esteban Toldeo, the Nos. 31-36 players who would not have been in the field a year ago. Who we will not be able to see, based on the fact they finished No. 37 or higher, are Kenny Perry (40), a Phoenix Open champ and part-time Valley resident; Billy Mayfair (43), Mr. Arizona Golf; Jimmy Carter (47), not the former president but the former Arizona State standout; Couples (60), one of the Champion’s biggest names; three-time Phoenix Open champ Mark Calcavecchia (68); the bad boy everybody loves, John Daly (70); the legendary Watson (78); and U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III (80).
Yes, there will be some other “names” among the top 30, such as Langer, Colin Montgomerie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Rocco Mediate, along with locals like Michael Allen, Kirk Triplett and Lehman, but I would argue that the increased number of players on the marquee has not necessarily led to additional talent that golf fans necessarily like to see. I mean, Mayfair or Goodes, Perry or Sindelar, Mayfair or Toledo? Hey, it could have been worse had Lehman (30) finished one spot worse.
Is it a problem for the Charles Schwab Cup race going forward at Phoenix Country Club next year? Or is it more just an overall lack-of-talent symptom of the Champions Tour, in general? I guess the question is, did the improved playoff format help the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, and indirectly the Charles Schwab Cup?
I’ll leave that up to you and my colleague, Gary Cruz, to discuss. But from here it looks like a push, at best, and probably a “no” in reality.