PGA Tour ChampionsJanuary 15, 2019

Retief Goosen heads acclaimed rookie class on the PGA Tour Champions, but Bernhard Langer remains the player to watch

The RSM Classic - Round Two
Streeter LeckaST SIMONS ISLAND, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 16: Retief Goosen of South Africa plays his shot from the 15th tee during the second round of the RSM Classic at the Sea Island Golf Club Seaside Course on November 16, 2018 in St. Simons Island, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

A new year begins with an old story on the PGA Tour Champions, Bernhard Langer and whether this is the year that he finally begins to act his age.

The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai starts Thursday on Hawaii’s Big Island, with Langer, as usual, headlining.

Langer, who will turn 62 in August, has led the senior tour in earnings seven straight years and 10 of 11 years. Last year, he won the Charles Schwab Cup for the fourth time in the last five years and the fifth time overall. Two more wins in 2018 ran his career total to 38 on the PGA Tour Champions, second in tour history only to Hale Irwin’s 45.

The status quo ostensibly should be difficult to maintain every year, given that Langer ages, but most PGA Tour Champions rookies don’t. They’re generally 50 every year, yet Langer rolls on.

But this group that turns 50 in 2019 is a formidable one, featuring 10 major championships.

Fortunately for Langer, four of them belong to Ernie Els, who won’t turn 50 until Oct. 17, which will prevent him from making his senior debut until 2020.

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The others include former British Open champion Paul Lawrie (who turned 50 on Jan. 1); Shaun Micheel (Jan. 5), a PGA Championship winner; two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen (Feb. 3); and Angel Cabrera (Sept. 12), a Masters and U.S. Open champion.

None, however, are entered in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, a tournament that Langer has won three times.

It is impossible to forecast who among this group, if any, might step into the void, should Langer finally leave one. Goosen, who will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame later this year, last won a tournament on either the PGA Tour or European Tour in 2009, Cabrera in 2014, Lawrie in 2012 and Micheel in 2003.

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Goosen sounded enthusiast when asked about playing the tour and is expected to make his debut at the Oasis Championship in Boca Raton, Fla., Feb. 8.

“I am excited to begin this new chapter in my career and eager to compete alongside my peers on PGA Tour Champions,” Goosen told PGATour.com. “The level of competition on this tour is incredible and creates great drama for fans around the world each week, and I cannot wait to be a part of it.”

Lawrie, meanwhile, has said he intends to split his time among the PGA Tour Champions, the European Tour and the Staysure Tour (the European Senior Tour).

Other PGA Tour winners turning 50 this year, early enough to play at least a few events, include Ken Duke, Chris Smith, Dicky Pride, Michael Clark II, Frank Lickliter, Shigeki Maruyama and Rod Pampling.

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