Though the field for the Charles Schwab Cup Championship this weekend includes 30 golfers, the Champions Tour has come down to a race between two, to be decided over four days this week at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
Kenny Perry scored a big playoff win over Bernhard Langer last weekend at the AT&T Championship in San Antonio, putting him 612 points ahead of Langer in the overall standings.
This weekend's winner will claim 880 pints, meaning for Langer to win, he must take first this weekend while Perry finishes out of the top 5.
Langer wasted no time getting to the Bay Area to start getting some practice in, much to the surprise of Perry.
“I flew in here [Monday] afternoon,” Perry said. “I'm at my locker and the locker attendant says, 'Bernhard got out here, he's already teed off Monday morning.' I'm like can't that guy just take a vacation, just relax a little? So he's very motivated, I'm very motivated. It's a great competition. It's really, you know, when you've got two guys trying to receive the ultimate prize out here and it's both within each of your grasp, it's very compelling and it's very fun to watch.”
A top-five finish is not all Perry wants, however. He said Tuesday that winning the Arnold Palmer Award, which goes to the year's money leader, was also in his sights. Winning this tournament would put him past Langer on that list.
For Langer's part, arriving early wasn't the only urgency involved in his strategy.
“I think I'm going to have to be fairly aggressive from the getgo,” he said. “You don't win tournaments being cautious. You can't. There's always somebody that's going to play well and putt well. So I have to hit a lot of good shots and make a lot of good putts and be pretty aggressive. Obviously there's some holes you can't be overly aggressive because you might pay the price right away and then you put yourself behind the eight ball, so it's got to be smart aggressive.”
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship tees off Thursday and runs through Sunday.