2013 Champions Tour Year In Review
By Andrew Gaddess, Golf Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Despite coming agonizingly close, Kenny Perry never won a major championship during his PGA Tour heyday.
Now a regular on the senior circuit, Perry broke through in a significant way in 2013, winning back-to-back Champions Tour majors at the Constellation Senior Players Championship and the U.S. Senior Open Championship.
In 1996, Perry held a 1-shot lead on the last hole of the PGA Championship at Valhalla, but he stumbled to a bogey and was eventually caught by Mark Brooks. On the first playoff hole, Perry couldn't match Brooks' birdie, handing the Kentuckian an agonizing loss in his native state.
Thirteen years later, at the 2009 Masters, Perry again stumbled down the stretch. Holding a 2-shot lead with two holes to play, Perry bogeyed both and fell into a playoff with Angel Cabrera and Chad Campbell, where he eventually fell to El Pato.
Perry bucked the trend during the 2013 Champions Tour season, beginning at the Senior Players Championship in June, where he closed with three straight rounds in the low 60s to edge third-round leader Fred Couples and Duffy Waldorf for his first major title.
He kept it going two weeks later at the U.S. Senior Open, rallying from a 10- stroke deficit at the tournament's halfway point to win by five for his second major in as many starts.
In October, Perry added another victory at the AT&T Championship, capping an incredibly productive 2013 campaign.
Still, Perry wasn't the only golfer to produce on the senior circuit. Let's look at who did what in 2013:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Perry
Buoyed by his three wins -- the most by any player on the Champions Tour in 2013 -- Perry went on to win the race for the Charles Schwab Cup.
Perry tied for fifth at the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship and, aided by Fred Couples' victory, edged Bernhard Langer in the race for the Cup.
Langer was the lone player in the field with a chance to take the season-long title from Perry, but he needed to win the tournament and have Perry finish in a five-way tie for fourth or a two-way tie for fifth. Instead, Langer shared second and Perry secured the Cup.
The case for Perry's POY campaign is supported by the numbers.
Along with his three wins, Perry produced 18 top-25 finishes, 12 top-10s and three runner-ups in 20 starts. He finished second to Langer on the money list despite playing in four fewer tournaments, just $207,240 behind Langer's $2,448,428. Additionally, Perry became just the ninth player in Champions Tour history to capture consecutive majors.
TOURNAMENT OF THE YEAR - AT&T Championship
Perry and Langer had arguably the two best campaigns of the 2013 season and the AT&T Championship proved a microcosm of their year-long battle for supremacy.
Both players entered October's AT&T Championship with a pair of wins on the season, but Perry pushed ahead and claimed victory No. 3 when he rolled in a 9-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole at TPC San Antonio's AT&T Canyons Course.
Perry and Langer closed with matching 5-under 67s after being among five co- leaders entering the final round. They ended at 13-under-par 203.
The pair returned to the 18th hole and both found the fairway off the tee. Langer missed the green right with his approach and chipped to about eight feet.
Perry dropped his second shot nine feet from the hole, on nearly the same line as his par putt on the 18th green in regulation, and drained the putt for the narrow victory.
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship followed one week later, where Perry secured the season-long title.
SHOT OF THE YEAR - Mediate makes history
Some shots are further legitimized by the moment.
Such was the case in the second round of the Allianz Championship in February, where Rocco Mediate needed to sink a 10-foot eagle putt at the last to notch the lowest round of his career.
Making his Champions Tour debut, Mediate turned in a course-record, 11-under 61 in the second round, highlighted by his nervy eagle roll on the Old Course at Broken Sound Club's par-5 18th.
Mediate found the green in two, lined up the eagle chance and took a short jab at the ball, which slowly rolled towards the cup before dropping in and eliciting a spirited cheer from the gallery.
The eagle putt sealed Mediate's career-low round, besting his 62 at Colonial in 2001. It also helped the Champions Tour rookie surpass the previous tournament record of 63, set by Craig Stadler in 2007.
Fueled by the clutch putt and sparkling round, Mediate went on the win the event by two strokes, setting up a memorable rookie campaign.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Mediate
Despite a history of back problems, Mediate won six times on PGA Tour, with his last victory coming at the Frys.com Open in 2010, where he holed out all four days.
After turning 50 in December of 2012, and with the exemption from his 2010 PGA Tour win expired, Mediate joined the Champions Tour and found immediate success.
Mediate won his tour debut at the Allianz Championship in February, becoming the 16th player in Champions Tour history to accomplish the feat.
But he wasn't done.
Months later, at the Shaw Charity Classic in September, Mediate won again, closing with two straight 64s to claim a 7-stroke win over Tom Byrum.
In 23 starts during his rookie campaign, Mediate posted 17 top-25 finishes and seven top-10s, including a tie for third at the U.S. Senior Open Championship.
Langer - In 24 starts, he recorded a pair of wins and led the tour in top-10 finishes with 18, five more than the next closest players (David Frost, Kirk Triplett). Captured the money title with $2,448,428 in earnings and placed second in the race for the Charles Schwab Cup.
Kohki Idoki - Produced the surprise win of the season, capturing the Senior PGA Championship title in his first-ever visit to the United States.
Frost - Won twice in 2013 and tied for the second-most top-10 finishes with 13. Placed third on the money list with $1,817,234 and finished fourth in the Charles Schwab Cup race.
Fred Couples - Won the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Finished third in the Charles Schwab Cup race and fourth on the money list with $1,706,812 despite playing just 15 events. Led the tour in driving distance and greens in regulation percentage.
Tom Lehman - Coming off consecutive Charles Schwab Cup-winning campaigns, Lehman failed to produce a victory in 2013. Appeared in 17 events and posted just one runner-up finish.
Bobby Wadkins - Made 20 starts without a win or a top-25 finish in 2013. Best result was a tie for 26th at the Liberty Mutual Insurance Legends of Golf. Ranked 98th on the money list.
Bob Gilder - Best result in 2013 was a tie for 22nd at the AT&T Championship -- his only top-25 finish in 22 events. Placed 84th on the money list.
11/25 13:11:11 ET