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TEE TIME IN CONOVER

October 1, 2010

Bernhard Langer comes into this week’s tournament with a substantial lead in the Charles Schwab Cup. He comes into this week’s tournament looking to increase that lead.

“My game is good right now,” Langer said Thursday. “It’s been good all year, and I really had a very good summer.”

That summer included two major championship wins in back-to-back weeks at The U.S. Senior Open and the Senior British Open. The German-born professional has won five events this season, and he has a 672-point lead over second-place Fred Couples in the Charles Schwab Cup. Langer is also the only player on tour so far this season with more than $2 million in winnings, but he still has only one objective when he tees off at 10:52 a.m. Friday.

“My goal is to win the tournament and play the best I can,” Langer said. “The lead looks substantial, but majors count double. And we have a major coming next week.”

The Champions Tour travels to TPC Potomac in Maryland for the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship, and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship is three weeks later. Langer plays Friday with Ted Schulz and R.W. Eaks, the winner of The Ensure Classic in 2007 and 2008.

The tournament this week features the strongest field in the event’s eight-year history. This year’s edition features 11 players with a major championship on their resume and includes 15 former members of Ryder Cup teams. Langer played in 10 Ryder Cups for Europe and was the winning captain in 2004 with a 9-point victory.

It also includes arguably the hottest player on the tour right now – Russ Cochran

Cochran, from Paducah, Ky., jumped to sixth place in the Charles Schwab Cup after winning two tournaments in the past two weeks. He captured the Posco E&C Songdo Championship and went wire to wire last week at the SAS Championship.

The win two weeks ago ended a 19-year drought for Cochran, and he is only one of four players this season to win multiple events on the Champions Tour.

“I felt like I was playing well all year, but I was not finishing the tournaments very well,” he said.

Cochran attributed his son, and former caddy, Reed for his recent solid play. The younger Cochran, who left his father’s bag to attend law school and was replaced by his older brother Ryan, told his dad he pressed too much at the end of tournaments to finish well.

“He calls it dummying up,” Russ Cochran said.

That’s when the change came. 

“I started noticing I was getting a little streakier and throwing longer stretches of good holes together,” said Cochran, who finished last year’s tournament is a tie for second place and went on to finish the season 17th on the 2009 money list. “It’s the weirdest thing when you see guys like Bernhard Langer, Nick Price and Fred Couples. They are fantastic, but they never get ahead of themselves.”

Cochran tees off at 10:41 a.m. Friday on the first hole and is paired with Fred Funk, third place in the Charles Schwab Cup, and Eduardo Romero.

The weather this week has been up and down for the players during the pre-tournament events. There was heavy rain Monday, sunshine Tuesday, overcast and rain Wednesday, and sunshine again Thursday. The National Weather Service predicts sunshine in the area Friday and Saturday and overcast skies Sunday with a 30-percent chance of rain.

Langer said that has not affected players’ preparations at all because most players on the Champions Tour have at least 30 years of experience playing golf in all weather conditions.

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