Champions Tour adds playoff system, new tournaments

The elder gentlemen of professional golf are getting a facelift.
And playoffs.

The PGA Tour’s Champions Tour announced Wednesday major revisions to its year-end schedule for the upcoming 2016 season. Following in the steps of the Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs and the Tour’s Finals, the Champions Tour – for players 50 and older – will have playoffs.

The inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs will feature three tournaments culminating with the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship to determine the champion.
The 2016 season includes 26 events with total prize money exceeding $55 million. The Charles Schwab Cup winner will earn a $1 million bonus and the top five finishers will also receive bonus payouts.

“I think that's a really nice thing for us,” Fred Couples said of the playoffs. “I think it puts more emphasis on our Tour at that time of year.”

“I've never been part of a playoff,” said Bernhard Langer, who won this year’s Schwab Cup. “ … It's going to be my first and we'll see how all that comes out. It should hopefully be more exciting, that's the whole idea. People enjoy playoffs and hopefully we can pull that off.”

Two of the three events in the playoffs are new tournaments. On Monday, the Tour announced the addition of the PowerShares QQQ Championship. It will be held in the Los Angeles area Oct. 24-30 and serve as the beginning of the playoffs. The site for the 2016 event is yet to be determined. Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks will host the tournament in 2017 and 2018.

The second new tournament is the second event of the playoffs – the Dominion Charity Classic on the James River Course of Richmond’s Country Club of Virginia from Oct. 31-Nov. 6.
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship, the traditional season-ending event at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., is the final event of the playoffs from Nov. 7-13.

The Tour also announced a third new event – the American Family Insurance Championship in Madison, Wis. The tournament will be hosted by Steve Stricker, a Wisconsin native who will become eligible to compete on the Champions Tour in 2017.

The top 72 players on the money list following the conclusion of the SAS Championship will head to the playoffs. And the SAS Championship will feature the inaugural Wildcard Weekend. One player who finishes in the top 10 of the SAS Championship but outside the top 72 on the money list will advance to the playoffs.

A cut to the top 54 players on the money list will be made heading to the second playoff event. The final will feature the top 36. Points will be reset for the season-finale, allowing for all 36 players to have a mathematical chance of winning the Cup.

The Tour also announced three historic venues will host major championships in 2016. Scioto Country Club in Columbus, Ohio, where Jack Nicklaus grew up playing the game, hosts the U.S. Senior Open. Carnoustie Golf Club in Scotland, where Ben Hogan won the only British Open he played in 1953, hosts the Senior Open Championship. And the Philadelphia Cricket Club, the oldest country club in the U.S., hosts the Constellation Senior Players Championship.

The Senior PGA Championship returns to The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., which previously hosted the tournament in 2012 and 2014. The other major, the Regions Tradition, will be played at Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Ala.

“I think one of the good things about this Tour is we're not playing 40 tournaments a year,” Jeff Maggert said. “You can pretty much play all the events and schedule accordingly, but I'm looking forward to the new Playoffs next year, too. I think it's exciting, it's kind of a new twist for this Tour. This Tour's been kind of going along with the current format for a while, so I think it's a positive change. I think it will draw some viewership. People will be a little more interested, especially at the end of the season.”

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