CARY, N.C. (AP) Bernhard Langer hopes a strong showing at this week's SAS Championship will propel him to the elusive Schwab Cup.
"I came close the last two years, and I had chances to be there, but I missed a few events that some guys didn't," said Langer, the Champions Tour's player of the year in 2008 and '09.
"The year has been very good - not that the last two years weren't. But this one was a little bit more special with the two majors, back-to-back wins."
Langer has five victories this year, including the Senior British Open and the U.S. Senior Open. He has a 575-point lead over Champions Tour rookie Fred Couples in the chase for the Schwab Cup and its $1 million payday.
Both will have to contend with the strongest field to play Prestonwood Country Club. Eight World Golf Hall of Famers are in suburban Raleigh for the SAS, which starts Friday.
Tom Pernice Jr. also is back to defend his title. He claimed a one-stroke victory last year by draining a 35-foot birdie putt on the final hole.
There are five events left before the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship. Couples says he hopes to chip into Langer's lead on the points list.
"If I'm this close to winning the Schwab Cup, I might as well keep playing, although I've missed a couple of majors by not going to them," said Couples, the first player to win three of his first four starts on the Champions Tour. "I still have a shot at catching Bernhard, but it's going to take some unbelievable golf."
Couples, who turned 50 last October, has bounced between the Champions and PGA tours this year. Even with that combined schedule, though, he hasn't played a full slate of golf. After the past two weeks off, he admitted he is "a little rusty."
"I've taken a lot of time off before," Couples said. "It shouldn't be the end of the world."
Couples was off for three weeks in May, then finished in the top 10 in five of six events on the Champions Tour.
Eight other players with PGA Tour victories are making their SAS Championship debut. That list includes Tommy Armour III, Jay Don Blake, Mark Calcavecchia and Bobby Clampett.