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|Current season, competition or edition:
2015 Champions Tour
|Inaugural season||1980 (as Senior PGA Tour)|
|TV partner(s)||Golf Channel|
|Official website||Champions Tour|
The Champions Tour, a golf tour run by the PGA Tour, hosts a series of events annually in the United States and the United Kingdom for golfers 50 years of age and older. Many of the PGA Tour's most successful golfers have gone on to play on the Champions Tour.
The Senior PGA Championship, founded in 1937, was for many years the only high-profile tournament for golfers over 50. The idea for a senior tour grew out of a highly successful event in 1978, the Legends of Golf, which featured competition between two-member teams of some of the greatest older golfers of that day. The tour was formally established in 1980 and was known as the Senior PGA Tour until October 2002. The original logo was based on the PGA Tour logo, with the red and blue reversed and with the golfer's profile modified to depict the wearing of a flat cap and plus fours.
Of the 26 tournaments on the 2010 schedule, all were in the United States except for the Senior British Open, a tournament in the Dominican Republic that started in 2008, and tournaments in Canada and South Korea starting in 2010. The guaranteed minimum official prize money is $51.5 million over 26 tournaments, with a record average purse of $1.98 million per event; slightly higher than the 2008 prize money of $51.4 million over the same number of events. The total prize money and number of events, however, are down from previous years—for example, the 2007 tour offered a total of $55.2 million over 29 events.
Most of the tournaments are played over three rounds (54 holes), which is one round less than regular professional stroke play tournaments on the PGA Tour. Because of this and having smaller fields, there are generally no "cuts" between any of the rounds. However, the five senior majors have a full 72 holes (four rounds). A golfer's performances can be quite variable from one round to the next, and playing an extra round increases the likelihood that the senior majors will be won by leading players.
In 2006, the Champions Tour Division Board of the PGA Tour organization voted to allow players the option to use golf carts during most events on the tour. The five major championships and certain other events, including pro-ams, are excluded.
Exemptions and qualifying
Current Champions Tour competitor and TV golf analyst Bobby Clampett has called the process for determining the field in Champions Tour events "the most complicated system known to man," and added that "[n]ot a single player even understands it fully."
Clampett attempted to explain the process in a 2011 post on his blog. Standard Champions Tour events—apart from invitationals and majors, which have their own entry criteria—have a field of 78. The first 60 places in the field are filled as follows:
- Up to 30 players who are in the top 70 of the all-time combined PGA Tour and Champions Tour money list. Since the bulk of those players have not yet turned 50 and are not yet eligible for the Champions Tour, this category rarely, if ever, fills up.
- The top 30 players, not otherwise exempt, who finished in the top 50 of the previous year's Champions Tour money list.
This leaves 18 places:
- Members of the World Golf Hall of Fame eligible by age.
- Winners of Champions Tour events in the previous 12 months.
- At the start of the season, 5 players from the previous year's Champions Tour Qualifying Tournament, in order of finish. During July, this category changes to include all non-exempt players based on the season's money list.
- Previously exempt players coming off medical exemptions.
- Top four players in their first two years of age eligibility with multiple PGA Tour wins.
- One spot for the highest finisher, not already exempt, within the top 10 of the previous week's tournament. Note, however, that a top-10 finish in a regular tournament does not qualify a player for a major. In another quirk, a top-10 finish in a major does not qualify a player for the next tournament on the schedule, even if it is a regular tournament.
- Up to 5 spots for sponsor's exemptions, but subject to reduction or elimination if the previous categories fill out the field.
- Up to 4 spots for Monday qualifiers, also subject to reduction or elimination
2015 money leaders
This lists the money leaders for the 2015 season through the Senior PGA Championship, which ended on May 24.
|Rank||Player||Country||Events||Prize money ($)|
|3||Joe Durant||United States||7||585,106|
|4||Olin Browne||United States||10||581,489|
|5||Jeff Maggert||United States||8||574,800|
|6||Kevin Sutherland||United States||9||527,310|
|7||Tom Lehman||United States||8||524,896|
|8||Tom Pernice, Jr.||United States||10||514,400|
|10||Bart Bryant||United States||10||497,167|
There is a full list on the PGA Tour's website here.
Money winners and most wins leaders
Players who lead the money list on the Champions Tour win the Arnold Palmer Award.
Multiple money list titles
The following players have won more than one money list title through 2014:
- 6: Bernhard Langer
- 3: Hale Irwin, Don January
- 2: Miller Barber, Bob Charles, Jim Colbert, Jay Haas, Dave Stockton, Lee Trevino
Leading career money winners
The table shows the top ten career money leaders on the Champions Tour through the 2014 season.
|1||Hale Irwin||United States||26,908,249|
|2||Gil Morgan||United States||20,463,277|
|3||Jay Haas||United States||16,138,666|
|4||Tom Kite||United States||16,007,225|
|6||Dana Quigley||United States||14,865,518|
|7||Bruce Fleisher||United States||14,862,031|
|8||Larry Nelson||United States||14,473,576|
|9||Tom Watson||United States||14,236,285|
|10||Jim Thorpe||United States||13,900,412|
There is a full list on the PGA Tour's website here. The PGA Tour also publishes a list of Champions Tour players' total career earnings on its three tours here. The top two players on that list are Vijay Singh and Davis Love III, who respectively became eligible for the Champions Tour in February 2013 and April 2014. Singh has won a total of $68.9 million, but has only played four Champions Tour events in his first two years of eligibility, earning less than $300,000 on that tour. Love has won $42.8 million in all, but only played in two Champions Tour events in 2014, earning less than $20,000. Among those who have played at least one full season on the Champions Tour, Kenny Perry is the all-time leader, with a total of $37.9 million, including $5.9 million in Champions Tour earnings since becoming eligible in October 2010.
- Champions Tour awards
- Champions Tour records
- List of golfers with most Champions Tour major championship wins
- List of golfers with most Champions Tour wins
- Professional golf tours
- "Champions Tour announces schedule for 2010". PGA Tour. November 24, 2009. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
- "Champions Tour releases schedule for 2009". PGA Tour. November 12, 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
- "Champions Tour unveils schedule of 29 official events for 2008". PGA Tour. June 28, 2007. Archived from the original on December 2, 2008.
- Clampett, Bobby. "Insight Into the Champion's (sic) Tour Exemption Process". BobbyClampett.com. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Rubenstein, Lorne (September 12, 2011). "Rutledge Embraces Vagabond Life of Champions Tour". GlobalGolfPost.com. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- "Vijay Singh Career Summary". PGA Tour. Retrieved November 4, 2014.
- "Davis Love III Career Summary". PGA Tour. Retrieved November 4, 2014.