Virginia Golfer Sep / Oct 2017 - Page 26

Beating The System Dominion Energy Charity Classic Players to Watch All eyes at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic will be on PGA Tour Champions phenomenon Bernhard Langer, the age- defying wonder. Langer, 60, doesn’t actually win them all, although it often seems that way. Here are five golfers expected to play at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond who could threaten Langer in this first of three Charles Schwab Cup playoff events: FRED COUPLES, 57, has enjoyed a Champions resurgence, winning twice this year—his first victories since 2014—and posting top 10s in eight of his first nine events. Couples (above) failed to qualify to play in Richmond last year, when the tournament was second in the PGA Tour Champions playoff chain. Rival Colin Montgomerie sees Langer’s decade-long run as “beating the system” that historically sees over-50 newcomers enjoy the most success. “He’s 60 in August and (you) usually get five years at this,” Montgomerie, 54, said at the Senior Open. “He’s given us all hope.” Langer has not played without controver- sy, however. Such voices as instructor Hank Haney and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee have questioned on air and social media Langer’s stroke with his long put- ter. Anchoring the club has been banned since 2016, but Langer—and McCarron to a degree—holds his left hand so close to his chest it can present the appearance of anchoring. PGA Tour Champions rules officials have made clear Langer is within the rules. Still, he has repeatedly been called to defend his integrity in interviews. “You can’t anchor and I’m not anchor- ing,” Langer remarked after winning the Senior Open. “If I was No. 180 on the money list, I don’t think anybody would be talking about it. Scott McCarron has a lot of success as well. We’re No. 1 and 2 on the Champions Tour. So you’re going to have people being jealous or whatever you want to call it.” In his way, Schoenfeld is driven to stay at the top, too. Last year, his tournament was so popular with the Champions players— from attendance and volunteer turnout to player courtesy cars—they voted it their Players Award for being their favorite event on tour. “It’s where the players feel the event just went above and beyond expectations,” Schoenfeld said. “It’s a huge honor, and it’s really humbling. We did something right.” Bernhard Langer won three of the five s enior major championships in 2017. Since 2014, Langer has won eight senior majors. In addition, Langer won the Masters in 1985 and 1993. He’s looking to win the Charles Schwab Cup for the fourth straight year. SCOTT MCCARRON, 52, birdied the first playoff hole, No. 18, last year to defeat Tom Byrum. A three-time winner on the PGA Tour, McCarron has won four Champions events in the last 14 months, including his first major, the Constellation Senior Players Championship, in July. BRANDT JOBE, 52, finished third in Richmond last year as one of three players to shoot all three rounds in the 60s. He got red hot this summer and won his first Champions title, the Principal Charity Classic, and also shot a 62 in the third round of the U.S. Senior Open, where he finished third. VIJAY SINGH, 54, a former world No. 1 player, has won 34 PGA Tour events and has carded a pair of top 20s on the tour this year. He’s won only a team event on the Champions tour, but was runner-up by a stroke to Langer at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in May. TOM LEHMAN, 58, has won once this year but carded numerous top 10s. He doesn’t go super low anymore, but Lehman is consistent. He is third on tour in total driving and first in greens in regulation. Lehman qualified for last year’s Dominion event but withdrew because of an injury. NOTE: STATS ARE ONLY CURRENT THROUGH AUG. 3. AGES ARE ACCURATE AS OF COMING SEPTEMBER. 24 V I R G I N I A G O L F E R | S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 17