Thats why Fred Funk, Jay Haas and Bernhard Langer all have reason to hope for a big finish at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in Sonoma.
Haas enters the four-day event at Sonoma Golf Club in Northern California wine country with a razor-thin 12-point lead over Funk in the standings for the Schwab Cup and the $1 million annuity awarded to the winner of a yearlong points race.
Langer is behind both golfers in the Schwab Cup standings, but he leads the money list by about $50,000 over Haas.
All three golfers could end up with the money title and the Schwab Cup with a victory in the tournament, the traditional close to the Champions Tour season. Haas was in a similar situation last year behind Loren Roberts heading into the Sonoma weekend, but he couldnt catch up in the Schwab Cup standings.
Ill have to play well here to hold off everyone, Haas said Wednesday. Really, 12 points is nothing. Last year, I didnt finish in the top 10. Didnt get any points. Had a chance, Loren gave me an opportunity to pass him, and I couldnt do it. So Id like to remedy that and play better this year.
Eduardo Romero and John Cook also have an outside chance at the Schwab Cup championship in the 29-man field, which wont include Tom Watson while he recovers from hip replacement surgery. The only certainty is that Jim Thorpe wont become a three-time winner of the tournament after the popular veteran finished outside the tours top 30.
Langer didnt become eligible for the tour until his 50th birthday late last season, but hes made an immediate impact. He took a week off before the Schwab Cup Championship to prepare for his first appearance in Sonoma.
The only thing I can control is my own game, and sometimes I cant control that, Langer said. I know if I play as well as I can, I can beat everybody, and thats what Im going to try to do. I really have no control over Fred Funk or Jay Haas or the other guys. Whatever the outcome will be, its been a good year for me. I have no complaints.
Haas passed Funk in the Schwab Cup standings last weekend in San Antonio, where Haas finished third while Funk tied for 36th. A victory in Sonoma is worth $442,000 from the $2.5 million purse'and dont forget the Schwab Cup annuity.
Cook and Romero have enjoyed outstanding seasons on the Champions Tour, but both would have to win the Charles Schwab Cup Championship to take home the annuity. With rainstorms in the forecast for the weekend in a normally dry time of year in Sonoma, the results could be unpredictable.
I like this golf course, Cook said. I think it doesnt favor anybody. Everybodys got a chance in this field. Youve had a good year if youre here. Youve obviously put together some very good weeks, and youve had a number of chances to win. If anybody won here this week, it would be no surprise. These guys are very good.