Champions Tour players eye PGA Tour
SAN FRANCISCO - The 2010 Champions Tour season wrapped up Sunday at TPC Harding Park as John Cook won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship by two strokes over Michael Allen and Bernhard Langer captured the Schwab points title, but a handful of 50-and-over golfers will be playing next week on the PGA Tour when its season concludes with the Children's Miracle Network Classic.
Allen, Tommy Armour III, Fred Funk, Tom Lehman and Tom Pernice Jr. will tee it up in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. A couple of them will have legitimate shots at joining fellow fiftysomethings Kenny Perry (93rd) and Corey Pavin (113th) in the top 125 on the 2010 PGA Tour money list.
Among the quintet of seniors playing at Disney, Allen, who finished second in the Viking Classic this fall, has the best shot at finishing in the top 125. He is currently ranked 124th with $726,631. A very good week could also propel Pernice, who is No. 137, into fully-exempt status for 2011. Lehman, Funk and Armour are all ranked out of the top 175.
Once their 50th birthdays came, golfers with the opportunity to play full-time on the senior circuit usually took it, eschewing the grind of the regular tour. That's not always the case these days, particularly for late bloomers such as Allen, Funk and Pernice, who have done well when they were in their 40s and kept it up after hitting the milestone.
"I'm hoping to go to Disney and have a good week there," said Pernice, 51, who was 14th on the 2011 Champions Tour money list. "If I play well enough there, I can stay in the top 125 and that'll allow me to play where I want to. As long as I feel I can compete on the highest level, that's where I would like to be. I like the challenge, and I like to work hard. I want to play against Phil and Tiger and Villegas and those guys. I'm going to try to do it as long as I can."
For Pernice -- whose best 2010 result on the PGA Tour was a T-7 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship -- the difference between his performance on the two tours is how he has finished his PGA Tour appearances. Going into the final event Pernice is ranked 16th on the PGA Tour with a 70.00 scoring average in the first two rounds but is No. 159 in final-round scoring with a 72.15 average.
"I don't feel 51, that's for sure," Pernice said. "When I'm out on the regular tour, I try to hang with some of the young guys."
If Pernice makes it to the weekend and bucks his final-round trend, he might be in position to do that whenever he wants in 2011. "If my game is good enough," he said, "I still want to play with the best players in the world."
-- Bill Fields