Kevin Sutherland dropped out. Charlie Wi zoomed in. And Rob Labritz, despite a final-hole bogey, held on to the final spot.
The third and final event in the 2023 Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs is here, with the top 36 players in the PGA Tour Champions points standings following the TimberTech Championship earning a spot in the field at Phoenix Country Club.
For the third time in tour history, the finale will lack drama, as the season-long crown has already been claimed by Steve Stricker, who clinched the title after the first playoff event, which he skipped. He also chose not to play this week but indicated a few weeks ago that he will be in the field in Phoenix, Nov. 9-12, saying “I’ll definitely be at the last one.”
Bernhard Langer finished second in the points. Padraig Harrington, who won the TimberTech by a whopping seven shots, ended up in the third spot in the points. He won the season-ending tournament in Phoenix in 2022. Last year’s season-long champ, Steven Alker, finished fourth this time around. Ernie Els nabbed the fifth-place spot.
One up, one down
One golfer moved into the final 36, and that was Charlie Wi, whose final-round 64 vaulted him into a tie for second at the TimberTech and into the 35th spot in the points standings. Kevin Sutherland, winner of the 2020 Charles Schwab Cup Championship, fell out of the top 36, dropping seven spots to 41st after a WD at the TimberTech.
Labritz shot 69-68-71 at the Old Course at Broken Sound and it was just enough to advance. He was flirting with danger, however, shooting a 3-over 38 on the back nine Sunday, including a bogey putt on the closing hole. But he knew bogey would be enough and let it all out after sinking that final critical putt.
— PGA TOUR Champions (@ChampionsTour) November 5, 2023
The 72-hole, no-cut Charles Schwab Cup Championship would essentially be a four-day victory lap for Stricker, who won six times this season. He played 16 events, finished top 10 in 15 of them and was runner-up five times. His only non-top 10 was right after he returned from serving as vice captain at the Ryder Cup near Rome.
Even a last-place finish in Phoenix would earn Stricker enough money to become the first to surpass the $4 million mark in one season on the senior circuit.
Qualifiers for 2023 Charles…