PGA Tour Champions: ‘If you’re 50, you better start winning’

The PGA Tour Champions has gotten a serious dose of star power in 2020 and to no one’s surprise, the newcomers started winning right away.

Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, who rank second and third on the PGA Tour’s all-time money list, are both Champions “rookies” this season. So is Ernie Els, who checks in at No. 11 on the all-time money list.

All three brought some extra juice to the senior circuit and each of them have already won twice in 2020, with Mickelson and Furyk both winning the first two Champions events they entered.

Furyk and Els have a shot this week to win for a third time in 2020 in the season finale, the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club. Els turned 50 in October of 2019 and made his Champions debut this year. Furyk hit the big 5-Oh on May 12, while Mickelson did so on June 16.

More: Will Mickelson and Furyk be a Champions tour rivalry?

“I gotta be satisfied,” Els said of his Champions tour success so far. “Two wins. I haven’t had a win for quite a while before this year, anywhere in the world, so it was nice to win again. As a rookie to have had the year I had so far, I’m very satisfied.”

Furyk has enjoyed similar success but also knows the tour is bound to get more competitive.

“This tour had a great group of guys already there, but you start adding in the last year Retief, Ernie, Phil, Mike Weir, KJ Choi, Rich Beem. It seems like every month someone else is turning 50,” he said. “I think it’s been a good buzz for our fans, for the media. Seems like the tour’s in a pretty good spot.”

Historically, 50-year-old Champions tour rookies win one of out three events on the circuit, so it’s not surprising that Mickelson, Els and Furyk won so soon. It’s the few years after that where winning becomes a bit more challenging.

“I came out here and I did very well for two or three years,” said Fred Couples, who won four times his Champions rookie season and 11 of his 13 Champions events in his first five years on the tour. “Then 56, 57. … sporadically I won a tournament here and there. So if you’re 50 and you’re considered a very good player, you’d better start winning.”

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