While the PGA Tour’s wraparound season, now in its 3rd year, is just starting to gather steam, the Champions Tour just wrapped up their competitive year with the conclusion of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship November 8 at the Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Arizona. Germany’s Bernhard Langer had the season-long title wrapped up by the end of the third round, but 2nd-year Champions Tour player Billy Andrade, of Rhode Island, brought the tournament title down to a playoff with Langer after he posted a final round 64.
The Bay Area’s Michael Allen set a strong pace over the first three days, opening the event tied for second after the first round and finishing the second and third days of the tournament in the outright lead, but a tendency to get loose off the tee in the fourth round sank his chances for the win.
Allen’s slips off the tee left the battle for the tournament title to the other two players who had been splitting the top two places on the leaderboard with him all week, Billy Andrade and Bernhard Langer. Langer, the 2010 and 2014 Schwab Cup champion, had come into the tournament trailing Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie by 66 points in the race for the season-long title. with Jeff Maggert close on Monty’s heels. Monty languished at or near the wrong end of the Top 20 for the first three days, Maggert lagging even further back, and neither man threatened Langer for the Cup through four days of play at Desert Mountain.
With his main rivals for the Schwab Cup stuck in low gear all week, the only question that remained for Langer was whether he would win the championship tournament and the Schwab Cup, or just the Cup? Andrade trailed the German by three strokes coming into the fourth round, but while 54-hole leader Michael Allen explored the rough on both sides of the course on his way to an even-par 70 in the fourth round, Andrade scrambled his way to a 6-under 64 to pull even with Langer, who closed with 67, after 72 holes of regulation play.
Andrade closed out the championship on the first playoff hole. Putting from just off the high side of the green, Andrade’s eagle attempt slid past the hole on the right side, leaving him a short comebacker for birdie. Langer, meanwhile, in his second-to-last putt with the anchored broomstick, stabbed his birdie putt past the hole from the far side, essentially handing the tournament win to Andrade before rolling in an anticlimactic par putt. Andrade had a straight-in 2-1/2-foot putt to win the tournament, which he dropped straight into the heart of the cup for his third victory of the year.
Langer can’t be too disappointed about ceding the championship tournament title to Andrade; after all, he won two of the last three regular season tournaments to reel in points leaders Colin Montgomerie and Jeff Maggert, sealing the deal Sunday at the Desert Mountain Club for a record third Schwab Cup title, and his second in a row.
Montgomerie finished in a tie for 14th with Jeff Maggert Sunday in Arizona, the two coming in 2nd and 3rd, respectively, in the Schwab Cup race. Michael Allen’s solo 3rd moved him from 15th to 9th in the season-long standings.