The defending champ, who turns 60 on Sunday, won last year in a three-way playoff.
SNOQUALMIE — Bernhard Langer turns 60 on Sunday, and the question for golf fans is whether his birthday present will be the bomber jacket awarded to the winner of the Boeing Classic.
Langer is the defending champion of the three-day, 54-hole Champions Tour tournament, which opens Friday at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. He also is the only golfer to win four times on the over-age-50 tour this year and is the top money-winner with $2.4 million.
Langer won a one-hole playoff last year against Woody Austin and Kevin Sutherland. He didn’t need a playoff when he won the tournament in 2010 weeks after winning the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee Country Club.
5 players to watch
Fred Couples: Greatest male golfer from Washington has two wins on Champions Tour this season. O’Dea High School grad is in World Golf Hall of Fame. Winner of 1992 Masters. Withdrew from Boeing Classic last year at start of tournament week because of back problems. Has three third-place finishes in five appearances in Boeing Classic. Age 57.
Bernhard Langer: Defending Boeing Classic champion turns 60 on Sunday. Has four wins on Champions Tour this year to lead everyone in wins and earnings with $2.4 million. World Golf Hall of Fame member. Native of Germany and lives in Florida. Pulled off the “Seattle Double” in 2010 when he won U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee and Boeing Classic.
Scott McCarron: Won Dick’s Sporting Goods Open last week in New York for his third victory of the season. Ranks second on 2017 money list with $1.7 million. Lived in Bellevue and Federal Way between ages 5-10. Might be best athlete on Champions Tour. Age 53.
Kevin Sutherland: Overdue for his first victory on Champions Tour. Has 11 top-10 finishes this year including second place last week in New York in Dick’s Sporting Goods Open. Lost in three-man playoff won by Bernhard Langer here last year. Became first golfer on Champions Tour to shoot 59 in competition on regulation course when he did it in 2014. Age 53.
Miquel Angel Jimenez: The ponytailed, cigar-puffing Spaniard has been called “The Most Interesting Golfer in the World.” This the first Boeing Classic for the 53-year-old who has won once this year. His successful ricochet shot off the wall at 17th hole at St. Andrews in 2010 British Open is an internet staple with some golf fans.
Historically, most Champions Tour events have been won by golfers in their early 50s. When someone jokingly told Langer Thursday, “Old guys aren’t supposed to win out here,” he replied:
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“Says who? We’re all old, just a matter of how old. … Like (Lee) Trevino once said, the golf ball doesn’t know how old we are. It doesn’t know what hit it.”
Langer hopes to become the first three-time winner of the Boeing Classic, now in its 13th year. To do so, he will have to prevail in a strong field that includes 11 other winners of majors on the PGA Tour.
A low flyover of a Boeing 787-8 jet will signal the start of the tournament at 11:20 a.m., and the field of 78 will begin teeing off on the first and 10th tees at 11:30 a.m.
The glamour pairing is Fred Couples, Scott McCarron and Miquel Angel Jimenez off the first tee at 12:10 p.m. Langer is next off the tee at 12:20 p.m. with Paul Goydos and Brandt Jobe.
Landon Jackson hopes the Boeing Classic is the launchpad for a career on the Champions Tour.
Jackson, who turned 50 on May 5, is a Garfield High School alum who spent more than 20 years as an assistant club pro at Pebble Beach in California and its sister course, Del Monte.
He left his job last September and moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., to gear up for a run at the Champions Tour. He is playing here in his debut on a sponsor’s exemption.
“It would be awesome to finish in the top 25,” Jackson said. “I know I have the skills to do it. … It’s what is between my ears that I have to worry about.”
A lot of rookies at any level feel that way but aren’t as forthright about admitting it.
Jackson told a story about himself to a youth clinic about suddenly hitting a terrible shot when Langer signaled to him to join him on the seventh green this week during a practice round. Jackson, who said he was “embarrassed” by the bad shot, just held back and Langer proceeded without him.
Jackson’s home course growing up was Jefferson Park, which is something he has in common with Fred Couples.
After Garfield, Jackson played for Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., and earned a degree in elementary education.
• No first-round leader of the Boeing Classic has gone on to win the tournament.
• Tom Kite, two-time Boeing Classic champion, and Bob Gilder have played in the tournament every year since it started in 2005.
• Audio highlights of each day of the tournament and assorted feature interviews are on the tournament website, BoeingClassic.com.