Pro Golf Weekly previews this week’s PGA Tour Champions event with the 2018 Constellation Senior Players Championship Primer.
The fourth major of the 2017-18 Champions Tour season is upon us, with the 36th-annual Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship. It will be contested at Exmoor Country Club in Highland Park, Illinois, marking the first time since 1997 that one of the five senior major championships will be conducted in the greater Chicago area.
Scott McCarron will return to defend his title, and will be joined by five other past champions in Hale Irwin (1999), Loren Roberts (2007), Jay Haas (2009), Mark O’Meara (2010), Kenny Perry (2013), and three-time winner Bernhard Langer (2014, 2015, 2016).
2018 CONSTELLATION SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Tournament: Constellation Senior PLAYERS Championship
Title Sponsor: Constellation Brands
Dates: July 12-15, 2018
Course: Exmoor Country Club
Where: Highland Park, IL
Distance: par-72, 7149 yards
Architect: Donald J. Ross (1915); Ron Prichard (2003)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $420,000
Defending Champion: Scott McCarron
WATCH & FOLLOW: SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
HISTORY: SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
The Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship (or simply the Senior PLAYERS Championship) is one of the five major championships on the Champions Tour. The inaugural event was played in 1983 at Canterbury Golf Club in Beachwood, Ohio. Miller Barber took home the first trophy along with a $40,000 check after shooting a 10-under-par 278.
The tournament is the fourth-oldest event on the Champions Tour with only the Senior PGA Championship (78 years), Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge (40 years) and the U.S. Senior Open (38 years) older.
Some of the biggest names in golf have lifted the trophy at this long-running senior major championship, but no one has won it more times than Bernhard Langer, who took home three straight titles (2014-2016). Other multiple winners include Arnold Palmer (1984, 1985), Dave Stockton (1992, 1994), and Raymond Floyd (1996, 2000).
One final tidbit: Only three players have won both the PLAYERS Championship and the SENIOR PLAYERS: Jack Nicklaus (1974, 1976, 1978, *1990), Raymond Floyd (1981, *1996, *2000), and Fred Couples (1984, 1996, *2011).
(* Denotes SENIOR PLAYERS Championship)
HISTORY: TOURNAMENT NAMES
2012-18: Constellation Senior Players Championship
2007-11: Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship
1993-06: Ford Senior Players Championship
1991-92: Mazda Presents The Senior Players Championship
1987-90: Mazda Senior Tournament Players Championship
1983-86: Senior Tournament Players Championship
HISTORY: RECENT WINNERS
2017: Scott McCarron (-18)
2016: Bernhard Langer (+1)
2015: Bernhard Langer (-19)
2014: Bernhard Langer (-15)
2013: Kenny Perry (-19)
2012: Joe Daley (-14)
HISTORY: TOURNAMENT RECORDS
3 – Bernhard Langer (2014-2016)
2 – Raymond Floyd (1996, 2000)
2 – Dave Stockton (1992, 1994)
2 – Arnold Palmer (1984, 1985)
261 (−19) – Kenny Perry (2013)
261 (−27) – Jack Nicklaus (1990)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: SCOTT McCARRON
Scott McCarron fired a final-round 6-under 66 on Sunday at Caves Valley Golf Club and then watched as leader Bernhard Langer missed two short putts down the stretch to give McCarron his first senior major title.
With two holes to go, Langer needed only a par-par finish to capture his fourth consecutive SENIOR PLAYERS title, but the 59-year-old German ran out of gas, and carded a double bogey-5 on the par-3 17th, and then lipped out a short birdie putt on 18 to finish at 1-over 73, one back of McCarron at 17 under.
For McCarron, it was his second win of the season, and first major as a professional. Afterwards, the then 51-year-old dedicated the victory to his caddie’s father, who recently passed away.
“My caddie, Rich Mayo, his father passed away on Wednesday, Bud Mayo. So Bud this one’s for you my friend,” said an emotional McCarron, as he turned to the camera. “We miss him. He used to love watching Rich and I… So this was really special”
FINAL TOP 5
1. Scott McCarron -18
2. Brandt Jobe -17
2. Bernhard Langer -17
4. Miguel Jimenez -16
5. Steve Flesch -13
SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD
Scott McCarron will return to defend his first major title, and will be joined by three-time SENIOR PLAYERS winner Bernhard Langer, recent U.S. Senior Open winner David Toms, Jerry Kelly, and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Kelly (5-1), Langer (6-1), Jimenez (8-1) Toms (12-1), and McCarron (18-1) are the top favorites according to bookmakers.
The 51-year old Kelly led the U.S. Senior Open for all three rounds, only losing the advantage to Toms, late Sunday on the back nine. Kelly opened the season with a victory at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, and since has tallied seven top-10s, including two runner-up finishes. He currently sits No. 2 in the Schwab Cup race.
Winner of the Regions Tradition, Jimenez has a 68.25 scoring average in the three majors – the best among players that have carded 12 rounds. He also finished fifth at the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship and is entering off a T2 finish at the U.S. Senior Open.
Defending champion McCarron, meanwhile, earned his first victory of 2018 just three weeks ago at the American Family Insurance Championship, where he carded final-round 64 to edge Kelly by a shot. It was McCarron’s seventh senior circuit title, and it marked the third straight year with at least one win. McCarron enters off a T52 at the U.S. Senior Open, and currently sits No. 6 in the Schwab Cup race.
In his last 10 starts at the SENIOR PLAYERS, Langer has finished inside the top-10 an amazing nine times, three of which were consecutive victories in 2014, 20151 and 2016. His victory in 2016 marked the eighth time on the senior tour that a player won the same event three straight years.
Finally, the newly crowned senior major winner, Toms, owns eight top-10s and six top-5 finishes in 2018, and following his victory in Colorado Springs improved from No. 9 to No. 1 in the Schwab points race. Last year, Toms finished T31 in his debut at the SENIOR PLAYERS.
In addition to Jimenez, Kelly, Langer, McCarron, and Toms, the field includes seven other players who have won this season, including Paul Broadhurst, Mark Calcavecchia, Joe Durant, Steve Flesch, Tom Lehman, Vijay Singh, and Kirk Triplett.
ODDS TO WIN THE SENIOR PLAYERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Exmoor Country Club | Highland Park, IL | July 12-15, 2018