By John Strege
Bernhard Langer’s hold on the Charles Schwab Cup was never tenuous, at least until he tripped on the final lap and caused the PGA Tour Champions to stumble as well.
This is not to shortchange the man who beat him, Kevin Sutherland. By virtue of his victory in the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Sunday and the system the tour has in place for the season-long points competition, Sutherland not only won the tournament, but the Charles Schwab Cup and its $1 million bonus, as well.
But here’s the rub. It was Sutherland’s only victory of the year, indeed his only PGA Tour Champions win in four years, while Langer won seven times this year, with two of the seven coming in the three-tournament Schwab Cup playoffs.
Two more points to consider. Langer, 60, would have won his fourth straight Schwab Cup had he reordered his victories in the playoff events. He won the wrong two. And with Langer’s tie for 12th despite closing with a seven-under par 64 at Phoenix Country Club on Sunday, Sutherland could have won the Schwab Cup even had he finished second or third in the tournament on Sunday and gone winless for the season.
“I think it needs adjusting,” Langer said of a system that includes resetting Schwab Cup points after each of the first two playoff events. “I do, personally, because you could have somebody win the whole thing that hasn’t won a tournament all year and I’m not sure that’s ideal. But I was on the [PGA Tour Champions policy] board. We said we’re going to try this out. I’m not sure if it’s perfect. It’s maybe like the FedExCup. They had to adjust it two or three times to make it interesting but also make it a little fair.
“It was never meant to be fair. It was meant to be playoffs. Everybody in the field was given a chance to win. Is it fair? No, it’s not, but that’s how it is right now.”
So be it. The rules were the rules and Sutherland won according to them.