The second leg of the PGA Tour Champions’ 2021 Charles Schwab Cup playoffs takes place with the TimberTech Championship, starting Friday from the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton, Florida.
The top 54 in points are competing this weekend, and the top 36 in the standings will advance to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship next weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.
Throughout the season, players earned points dollar-for-dollar with their winnings on tour, but at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic two weeks ago and at this week’s event, points are doubled. The Dominion Energy Charity Classic was won by Bernhard Langer, who became the oldest winner in PGA Tour Champions history at 64, breaking the mark Scott Hoch set in 2019 when he won at age 63.
This tournament dates back to 2007 and was known as the Allianz Championship for much of its history before TimberTech took over as title sponsor in 2020. Langer has also had a great history at this event, becoming the only two-time winner of the tournament with his win in 2019, and he also set the tournament record at that event by shooting a 19-under 197, breaking the record of 198 set by Michael Allen in 2014. Langer, who is German but currently lives in Boca Raton, also won here in 2010.
The first tournament, which was contested in February and was every year after that until it was moved to November in 2020, was won by Mark James of England. He was the only winner from the United Kingdom until Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland won in 2020.
Clarke’s win last year, then age 52, was his first at a PGA Tour Champions event.
“I’ve had a lot of opportunities the last few years, so it’s great to finally win one,” Clarke said after his victory. The 2011 Open Championship winner has since won two more times on the tour, winning the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in January and then the Sanford International in September.
The Old Course at Broken Sound measures 6,807 yards and is a par-72 course. The Joe Lee-designed course opened in 1978 and was recently refurbished by Gene Bates (with an assist from Johnny Miller) in 2004 to make the course more playable. The course is modeled after those in Pinehurst, North Carolina and have features that are seen more at northern courses than ones in Florida, including varied elevation, more woods to contend with, and 75 bunkers to navigate around.
The course immediately presents a challenge with a par-5, 561-yard first hole that can be cut down in distance a bit by a tee shot on the right of the fairway.
Down the stretch, hole 16 is a birdie hole—a shorter par-5 that is fairly open to the right with a green that’s reachable in three shots with good positioning on the drive and approach shots.
Nos. 17 and 18 are intimidating par 4s, as the drive on each hole must go over water to reach the fairway. On 18, there are also fairway bunkers to contend with if you clear the water, and the green is also well-protected by three bunkers that nearly completely surround the green.
While Langer one his last time out, Jim Furyk has also been on a surge, finishing fourth, third, and eighth in his last three events. At this time last year, Furyk was absolutely on fire, winning The Ally Challenge in August and the PURE Insurance Championship in September before finishing tied for second here, a stroke behind Clarke for the win. As a result, Furyk is a narrow favorite at +550 on the betting line.
More recently, Furyk won the U.S. Senior Open in July and has six top-10 finishes in his last seven events, including a runner-up at the Boeing Classic and an eighth at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic last week. Despite the great results, however, Furyk is now in second behind Langer on the Charles Schwab Cup money list due to Langer getting double points for his win in the first playoff event.
(+600) is at $3,159,999 on the money list, $318,861 ahead of Furyk going into this tournament, which is the last one before the PGA Tour Champions finale in 2021. Like Furyk, Langer is also on an incredible run as of late, earning top-10 finishes in six of his last seven events as well, including a victory last week and runner-up finishes at The Ally Challenge in August and at the PURE Insurance Championship in September. In that stretch, he’s shot just one round over par—a 73 in the second round at the Constellation Furyk & Friends last month.
Langer, 12 years’ Furyk’s senior, remains in incredible shape, and it’s fitting that he’s now the oldest winner on the PGA Tour Champions.
“When you get to be my age, you never know if you’re going to win again. It’s as simple as that,” Langer said after his win two weeks ago. “Hopefully, this won’t be the last one. But if it is, it was very special. To become the oldest so far to win out here—it’s not easy.”
Langer’s 42 wins on the senior tour puts him just three wins shy of Hale Irwin’s career record. He also already owns the record for wins in senior majors with 11. Since joining the PGA Tour Champions in 2007, Langer has finished in the top-three in just over a third of his starts and in the top-10 in over two-thirds of his starts. He’s also two solid efforts away from winning his sixth championship on the PGA Tour Champions, and no other golfer has won the season-long title more than two times. Langer’s resume also includes two Masters titles as a part of three wins on the PGA Tour and 42 wins in 509 starts on the European Tour, all measures of consistency and greatness for nearly five decades now.
“If you sit down and see how many tournaments he’s won in his career—and he’s been a professional since he was 15—you talk about 50 years playing as a professional and he’s still at it. It’s an incredible story,” fellow major winner Ernie Els said of Langer.
Defending tournament champion Darren Clarke is a bit of a bargain at +2200. During his winning three rounds in 2020, Clarke made 19 birdies in 54 holes, including eight just in round two alone. Since winning here last year to break through for the first time on the PGA Tour Champions, Clarke has since won two more times and has 22 top-25 finishes in his 30 starts.
He’s had especially strong results since a third-place finish at the Senior Open Championship in July, winning the Sanford International in September and finished in the top 22 in seven of the eight events since, including an 11th two weeks ago at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic. He’s currently 10th in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
(+900) is fourth in the season-long standings coming into this event, where he shot rounds of 68, 67, and 66 last year to finish fourth with a 15-under 201. Prior to a somewhat disappointing 31st place finish at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in the playoffs’ first round, Jimenez finished runner up in three of the prior four events and was fourth in the other. The runner-up finishes came at the Senior Open Championship, the Constellation Furyk & Friends, and the SAS Championship. For the season, he’s finished in the top 10 in exactly half of the 30 events he’s played in this year. It has, however, been over a year since his last victory, which came at the Sanford Invitational in 2020. That win was his 10th as a member of the PGA Tour Champions circuit, becoming the 39th player to reach that feat.
(+1100) has come on strong as of late, finishing fourth at Dominion after shooting a 63 in the first round and played in the final group with Langer and Steve Flesch. It was his seventh top-10 finish in eight starts, and he will be motivated to have another solid effort here this weekend, as he’s No. 51 in the Schwab money list and needs to be up to 36 to reach the championship event next weekend. He’s done this despite only having played in eight events since turning 50 in August, and his only finish outside of the top 10 was a 16th at the SAS Championship. He also played 29 events on the Korn Ferry Tour, where his best finish was a fifth at the Utah Championship Presented by Zions Bank in early August.
(+1200) has a second-place finish at the PURE Insurance Championship and a third at the SAS Championship in his last four starts, with the other two also being inside the top 20. Cejka is 10th in the Schwab Cup standings despite not making his first start until February (when he became eligible due to age), giving him 18 starts in this super season that includes the latter part of 2020 after the COVID-19 break. He did not play in this event last year, so he doesn’t have a history on the course. He started off his PGA Tour Champions career in a very strong fashion, winning in his third (Regions Tradition) and fifth (KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship) starts, including a major win in the latter, not to mention a runner-up result in the Chubb Classic, which was his second-ever event. He has one win on the PGA Tour, which came in 2015, and he lost to Patrick Cantlay in a playoff in the 2018 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Is also at +1200 and has had a hot last two months, but he was unable to close out a win in the Dominion two weeks ago. He led by two strokes going into the final round but started his Sunday with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3 and couldn’t recover, settling for a third-place finish. He hasn’t won on the PGA Tour Champions since 2018, but he five top-three finishes this season with four of them coming since August. Since a second-place effort at the Shaw Classic in August, he’s finished in the top-12 in eight of his last nine tournaments, with the outlier being a 23rd at the Ascension Charity Classic.
(+1800) hasn’t had the consistency that you would expect of the several-time major champion, but he’s shown flashes of brilliance in recent weeks. He shot a 63 in the final round of the Dominion two weeks ago to propel him to a tie for fourth place, which was his second top-five in his last three starts. Els ranks third in Schwab Cup points, but he likely needs a win here or next week to catch Langer or Furyk. It’s also been over a year since his last win, which came in October 2020 at the SAS Championship, and he also won the Hoag Classic in March of that year. He was 26th in this tournament last season.
The defending Charles Schwab Cup champion, is at +2000 and is at seventh in the season-long standings despite not playing last week. His last tournament was a ninth-place effort at the SAS Championship where he was a model of consistency, shooting a 69 in all three rounds. After winning the Schwab Cup Championship last year, he also took home a victory at the Cologuard Classic in February.
Robert Karlsson is at +5000 based on a somewhat ordinary 2021 part of the PGA Tour Champions mega-season, but he was strong in 2020, including a fifth-place finish at the TimberTech Championship last year, where he made 19 birdies, so he’s very comfortable with the course. While he hasn’t had any top-10s recently, he was tied for second at the Chubb Classic in April and was third at the Regions Tradition in May.
Two marquee names who need strong finishes here to qualify for the championship event next week are Kenny Perry (+5000) and Vijay Singh (+7000). Perry never won a major but did win 14 times on the PGA Tour and has 10 wins on the senior tour, most recently at the 3M Championship in 2018. He sits 34th in the standings with the top 36 advancing to next week’s tournament. He was tied for 21st here last year and finished 25th at the Dominion last week. Singh is 33rd in the standings and finds himself in a similar situation as Perry. He was 59th last week but has top-11 finishes in three of his last seven events and finished tied for 10th place at the TimberTech last year.
TimberTech, a company that creates outdoor living spaces like decks out of sustainable materials, such as plastic shopping bags, has pledged that they will not send any waste to a landfill throughout the course of this event. There’s an on-site composter at Broken Sound, and some waste will even be converted into future products that TimberTech will use in construction.
According to the tournament’s website, the Boca Raton Champions Golf Charities serves as the operational and financial oversight group for the event, as well as distributing all charitable funds. All net tournament proceeds benefit the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Foundation, as more than $2 million has been donated to various charities over the past 13 previous years of the tournament’s existence.
With the way Langer has been playing, it would be tough to bet against him in his hometown. Same goes with Furyk, and Clarke has become a consistent winner on the tour since claiming his first senior tour win here. Clarke also has added value at +2200 and is worth a play. Steve Flesch has also been hot the last few months and seems due for a victory, and don’t overlook Steven Alker or Alex Cejka, as they have taken the PGA Tour Champions by storm even though they have not participated in the full campaign.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE 2021 TIMBERTECH CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Miguel Angel Jimenez||+900|
|Darren Clarke / Mike Weir||+2200|
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