I told you on the Most recent Duffin’ Up Podcast that all I wanted from this week was for Phil to go out and crush his Champions Tour debut. Many people saw the Charles Schwab Series at Ozark National would be a great tournament for him to start at: open fairways, long holes, and decent greens. If he could do it, he would become just the 20th player in Champions Tour history to win on his debut, and the 2nd this year with Jim Furyk.
And boy, did he get off to a hot start at the Big Cedar Lodge. Coming up with a 61 on Monday, he was able to knock in 11 birds and only one bogey. At one point, he rolled in 5 straight birdies.
After round one, Phil was in the lead, but only by one stroke. Did I think that 10-under was a fluke? No. But did I think he was going to follow a 61 up with a 64 on Tuesday?!?! No I did not. But one thing I learned about Phil is that you never count him out.
With a score of 125 through the first 36 holes, Phil was not only 4 strokes up, but was also in line to break the scoring record for a Champions Tour event (191 jointly held by 5 players). And with Phil going out in 31 for the 2nd straight day, it looked like he was within reach!
Unfortunately, while he was not able to break the record, as he ended up with a 191 total strokes and became the 6th player in Champions Tour history to shoot it! His 22-under par is also the lowest winning score this year on the Champions Tour by 4 strokes.
So besides a nice little paycheck of $450,000, what else does does Phil win? For starters, he moves up in the Champions Tour rankings from unranked to 15th! Although, if we are all being honest, I don’t think we will see him compete on the Champions for the rest of the year. He can still cut it on the PGA Tour, and while a $450k payday is nice, it is one of the larger paydays on the Champions Tour. He could still make good money on the PGA circuit, and I think the level of competition is what will drive him to stay on it.
Most importantly, it gets a little confidence back going back onto the PGA Tour. After missing the Northern Trust cut, Phil needed to get back on track. This win does exactly that, and will hopefully propel him to play well in the next few PGA events. His next tour event will be the Safeway Open in California, and I know I can’t wait to see him tee off in Napa!