SCOTTSDALE, Az. — The weather may finally be cooling off in Arizona, but the Charles Schwab Cup competition is still heating up.
With just four events remaining on the Champion’s Tour, each of the top three in the points standings – Jeff Maggert, Colin Montgomerie, and reigning Cup holder Bernhard Langer – has a legitimate shot to take home at the Cup.
The ultimate winner of the $1 million annuity and the Cup may be determined at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship, with 800 Charles Schwab Cup points up for grab, Nov. 3-8, at Desert Mountain Club/Cochise course.
This is the third time the tournament has been held at Cochise (2012, 2014), one of six award-winning Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses at Desert Mountain, a scenic, sprawling 8,000-acre gated community adjacent to the Continental Mountains, 26 miles north of downtown Scottsdale.
For last year’s tournament winner Tom Pernice, who beat good friend Jay Haas in a four-hole playoff, Desert Mountain is much more than spectacular scenery.
“This really is a special place for me,” said the four-time Champions Tour winner. “I’ve played all over the world and my hat’s off to you. What you’ve done here is beyond belief, really. The players just love it, and we wouldn’t be happier any other place.”
Pernice currently ranks 17th in the Cup standings, with no wins but six top 10’s this season. He was addressing the high-powered group of golfers, politicians (including the Governor and two local mayors), tournament organizers, and local residents/members who attended Charles Schwab Cup Media Day Sept. 1.
This may be the penultimate year the top 30 money leaders on the Champions Tour finish the season at Desert Mountain. The Championship will remain there through 2016 but, after that, its location is uncertain.
According to Tournament Executive Director Gerald Goodman, in response to the enthusiastic lobbying from the Governor and other interested parties in the room, the tournament was never designed to be anchored at one location.
He explained, “We have a new president of the Champions Tour, very innovative, Greg McLaughlin, and his vision of this tournament is more likely not to anchor it at any one place, but to move it around. It wouldn’t be unheard of for us to come back over the next years, but this tournament was never designed to stay in one spot, like the Tour Championship does in Eastlake in Atlanta.”
Arizona Governor Doug Doucey made the case for Desert Mountain, stating, “This tournament means a lot to our state. It’s quickly become a point of pride to host this high caliber event.”
He also cited the economic impact on the local economy through tourism dollars it generates, and the more important charitable impact on Arizona families in need.
Before heading out to the putting green for a 3-hole contest with Governor Ducey and First Tee golfer, 14-year old Michelle Koo, Pernice spoke about the high level of competition on the Champions Tour and how the “over 50s” are inspired by the younger guys on the PGA Tour.
“We try to keep up as much as we can,” he said. “We’re not quite at that level, but there are some players that can still play out here, and have had great careers in their former years, too.”
And he offered some advice to this year’s competitors as they make their way around the par 70/6,929-yard track.
“If you drive the ball pretty well around Cochise here, you’re going to have some good opportunities for birdies. So if you give yourself a lot of chances, you’re going to make some putts.”
The defending champion and the 29 other top Champions Tour money winners will all be looking for those chances come November.