Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, John Daly headline PGA Tour Champions stop in Phoenix

The golf world has settled back to mostly normal, but the 2020 calendar certainly was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

Dozens of tournaments on the major golf tours were canceled, including several major championships.

On the PGA Tour Champions, a total of 14 events were knocked off the calendar, although two new ones were added last-minute in August. Four of the five senior majors were lost this year.

Further fallout included the loss of tour’s season-ending championship. The circuit is still holding the Charles Schwab Cup Championship this week but now the tournament is simply part of a combined 2020 and 2021 season, so on Sunday, the 2020 tournament winner will be crowned but the next Charles Schwab Cup will be awarded in November 2021.

Who’s in the field

The field was increased from 78 golfers to 81, while the event was reduced from 72 holes to 54.

Here’s a closer look at some of the big names set to tee it up this week.

Bernhard Langer

Winner of 41 Champions tour events and a five-time Charles Schwab Cup Champion. He tied for second on Sunday in the TimberTech Championship, finishing runner up to Darren Clarke, who won his first PGA Tour Champions title. Langer leads the points race. The World Golf Hall of Famer has earned more than $40 million while playing on the PGA Tour and the PGA Tour Champions the past 45 years; $30 million of that was won on the senior circuit.

Jim Furyk

Won his first two starts on the senior circuit, becoming the second to ever do so. He tied Langer for second at the TimberTech.

“I’ve enjoyed playing the Champions Tour, to be honest with you. I feel like I’ll play a handful of PGA Tour  events next year, but I think this is kind of my home,” Furyk said last week. “It’s been nice kind of getting the juices flowing and having chances to win golf tournaments.”

Mike Weir

Turned 50 the same day as Furyk. Has posted three top-10 finishes in just eight starts, including a runner-up finish to Mickelson three weeks ago.

Ernie Els

Turned 51 in October and he, too, has won twice this season. His first came in Newport Beach, California, in the Champions tour’s last event before the shutdown. He won again a month ago.

Jeff Maggert

The defending champion of the event, Maggert holed a wedge shot from 124 yards out on the third hole of a playoff with Retief Goosen to capture the 2019 title in the Charles Schwab Cup on Sunday at Phoenix Country Club.

John Daly

He was the first-round co-leader in Boca Raton, Florida, last week, before settling for a T-26 finish. Daly held a lead for just the second time during a tournament since joining the PGA Tour Champions in 2016. He has one Champions tour win, in 2017, and just 10 top-10 finishes in 77 starts. But he remains one of the tour’s fan favorites.

Hale Irwin

Winningest player in Champions tour history with 45 victories.

Who won’t be there

Phil Mickelson

Matched Furyk’s feet by winning his first two times out on the 50-and-over tour but instead of going for a third senior title this week, Lefty instead has committed to the Vivint Houston Open. It’s the final PGA Tour event before the November Masters.

Mickelson was openly debating between Houston and Phoenix for a few days. After finishing 76th in the 77-man field at the Zozo Championship, Mickelson expressed some concern, despite the PGA Tour’s highly successful protocols to deal with COVID-19, about the Houston Open’s decision to allow 2,000 fans per day on site. But he ultimately decided it was the best way to prep for Augusta National.

Darren Clarke

It had been nine years since Darren Clarke had a victory toast, but on Sunday, he tapped in a short birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the TimberTech Championship by a shot over defending champion Bernhard Langer and Jim Furyk. It was Clarke’s first victory since the 2011 British Open.

Had he lost, no doubt he would have rued a one-stroke penalty he received Saturday for picking up his ball on the second hole, forgetting the field was no longer using preferred lies.

It was Clarke’s last chance to win this year. Because of visa issues, he has to be out of the country by Wednesday, meaning he won’t play in Phoenix.

The venue

Phoenix Country Club will host the Charles Schwab Cup Championship for the fourth time. PCC is a parkland-style golf course that hosted the Phoenix Open from 1932 to 1986. Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gene Littler, Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw and Hal Sutton all have a Phoenix Open title on the résumés.

The course was redesigned in 2002 by Tom Lehman and John Fought.

Five-term Arizona Senator and 1964 Republican Party presidential candidate Barry Goldwater was once an influential member. His brother Bob is recognized by many as the father of the Phoenix Open.

“I thought the idea of a golf tournament in Phoenix in the winter would be an ideal way to bring awareness to Phoenix,” he once said.

In 2017, pro golf returned to the central Phoenix course with the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.

No fans, for the most part

In September, the Sanford International at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, became the first professional golf tournament to welcome fans back, with 10,000 daily tickets distributed.

The Schwab tournament this week is closed to fans, although tournament officials are making about 350 daily tickets available to Phoenix Country Club members and sponsors.


Golf Channel will have live coverage all three days from 4 to 6:30 p.m. ET.

The Palm Beach Post contributed to this article.

Comments are closed.