A combined PGA TOUR Champions 2020-21 season is the decision made as a result of the pandemic. The wraparound season will conclude in November 2021, and put into motion an intriguing race for the Charles Schwab Cup. Not only will the drama have longer to unfold, it will up the ante with the inclusion of a new group of marquee players.
Combined PGA TOUR Champions 2020-21 season will feature key players
How about this for a potential season-ending scenario? Reigning Charles Schwab champion Scott McCarron is trying to hold off newcomers like Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Mike Weir—each a major champion—as well as ageless wonder Bernhard Langer, a five-time winner of the Charles Schwab Cup.
Throw in a few other senior stalwarts like international standouts K.J. Choi of South Korea and Robert Karlsson of Sweden and all the ingredients for a big finish are there.
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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, PGA TOUR Champions heightened the prospects for high drama by making the decision to do a combined PGA TOUR Champions 2020-21 season featuring 13 events in 2020 with the complete schedule for 2021 to determine the next Charles Schwab Cup champion at the end of the 2021 season.
Decision gives Charles Schwab Cup competitors a chance
PGA TOUR Champions president Miller Brady said, “The combined schedule for 2020-21 is the best solution for everybody. The wonderful support from the tournaments, title sponsors and the Player Advisory Council has helped us to address some of the schedule complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result we have created solutions that best serve our members and our tournament communities.”
Monte Ortel, the tournament director for the Mitsubishi Electric Classic in Duluth, Ga., agreed with Brady. His tournament was among those canceled because of the pandemic.
“The wraparound season or super season is ideal for the situation we were in,” Ortel said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for our members. When you crown a Charles Schwab Cup champion you want to have enough events and we have the flexibility on this tour to do that.”
The solution ensures there are plenty of tournament opportunities to determine a true champion. It rewards those who experienced early success in 2020, but gives the rest of the competitors plenty of time to catch up and compete for the Charles Schwab Cup.
Els is the biggest start to join the PGA TOUR Champions
It also offers avenues for new players to get immersed in PGA TOUR Champions.
The biggest star to join PGA TOUR Champions is Els, a four-time major champion who won his third start on the Champions circuit. The “Big Easy” birdied two of the last four holes at Newport Beach Country Club to win the Hoag Classic. It was his first victory since 2013 and helped further establish his place on PGA TOUR Champions.
“I’m not going to play much on the regular TOUR,” he said. “I’ll play most of my golf on the Champions. I really like it out there. I think I’ve done what I could out here on the regular TOUR. I’ll play some select events, but mostly on the Champions.”
Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open winner and 2010 FedExCup Champion, might be close to making the same decision. Furyk has 17 wins on the PGA TOUR, but none since 2015, and says he will ease into the Champions schedule. He may play as many as four Champions events in 2020 and will re-evaluate his situation going into 2021.
“Maybe next year,” Furyk said. “Eventually the time is going to be right and I’ll kind of flip the switch and go play the Champions fulltime.”
Furyk played practice rounds with seniors McCarron, Olin Browne and Davis Love III to get more insight about expectations on PGA TOUR Champions.
“I want to get out there and see the look, the feel, what a Champions Tour event is all about, because we have an event we need to build and I want it to be successful and I want guys to like it,” Furyk said.
Furyk is referring to the Constellation Furyk & Friends tournament, which will debut in October 2021 at the historic Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Fla. The event, hosted by Furyk and wife Tabitha, has a five-year deal and will offer a $2 million purse.
There are other new faces in the mix, too. Weir won eight times on the PGA TOUR, including the 2003 Masters. Choi won eight TOUR events, highlighted by THE PLAYERS in 2011.
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And then there’s Langer. The two-time Masters champion has 41 wins on PGA TOUR Champions, including the Cologuard Classic in March. He needs four wins to tie Hale Irwin’s record of 45 Champions victories, which many believed was untouchable until Langer continued to sustain his success.
“I feel if I can play my best, I can win out there,” said Langer, who made the cut at the PGA TOUR’s RBC Heritage in June, joining a small group of golfers 62 or older who have done so on TOUR. “I don’t think about [the record] but I get reminded of it just about every week. We don’t live and die for records, but it’s fun to have a couple of them.”
They’ll all be trying to supplant McCarron, who set a goal to repeat as the Charles Schwab Cup champion.
“That’s my goal every year,” McCarron said. “It means you’ve had a great year, you’ve probably won two or three times, and you’ve been consistent all season.”
The fields for the remaining events in 2020 will increase from 78 to 81 players and all three of the playoff events will have 81-player fields. The Charles Schwab Cup Championship will be reduced from 72 to 54 holes. All players will retain their 2020 eligibility for 2021, except for the five graduates from Q-school, who will play their guaranteed events. There will not be a Q-school in 2020 with the combined PGA TOUR Champions 2020-21 season.
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