Bernhard Langer knows what he needs to do at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park to win the Charles Schwab Cup season points title and $1 million annuity.

And it isn't going to be easy.

Kenny Perry enters the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship with a 612-point lead over Langer.

Langer, who lost to Perry in a playoff Sunday in San Antonio in the AT&T Championship, not only needs the 880 points that go to the tournament winner, he needs Perry to finish sixth or worse.

Langer said he would focus on his game and not worry about anything else. It's hard enough, he says, to think through his own approach.

"It's exciting to come into this event having an opportunity, slim as it might be, to win the Charles Schwab Cup," Langer said. "It's a yearlong competition, and it just proves you've had a great year, first of all by being here in the top 30."

Langer has been one of the most consistent players on the Champions Tour this season, winning two titles and holding the lead at some point in eight others. He's also the leading money winner at $2,234,095 -- $106,657 ahead of Perry.

Perry has won three events and held the lead at some point in three others.

"I can't control what other people do, I can only play the best I can," Langer said. "That's my goal -- play as good as Bernhard Langer can play each and every shot."

Langer remains optimistic because of the success he has enjoyed thus far.

"I started off better than any other year," he said. "I continued to play great golf through the whole year. I never really had a low point. I've been in contention probably more than ever and had opportunities to win maybe win five, six, seven times this season. It's been an interesting year."

The 56-year-old German won the Masters in 1985 and 1993 and became golf's first official No. 1 ranked player when the system was devised in 1986. Langer has 18 career Champions Tour titles and 82 top-10 finishes in 124 career starts.

"Whether I am better now than I was, I really don't know," Langer said. "I just know I've had a lot of solid years and had a lot of fun out here."

Perry won 14 PGA Tour title and has five Champions Tour victories, including two majors this season.

"It's been a great summer to win the two majors and finally break through on that deal," Perry said. "Now I'm trying to win this thing. To me it would be the ultimate accomplishment to win the Charles Schwab Cup, the season-ending trophy we all shoot for come January."

According to Perry, he has 28 other blockers. Should he finish out of the top five, having someone other than Langer win means the trophy belongs to him.

"I've got a lot of things going my way," Perry said. "If I get another player to get hot and win the tournament, then they win the Cup for me as well. I'll be looking and paying attention, but I also need to step my game up too, and I need to figure out a way to the top five this week."

Steve Elkington, who won the 1995 PGA Championship, was the final qualifier from the money list, finishing 30th with $501,332.

  • Phil Mickelson was hard at work Wednesday morning on the practice range at Sheshan International in Shanghai, and not just on his golf swing. He was trying to learn a Chinese phrase: "After the round."

    For all the autographs he gives, Mickelson never signs during his round, even if it's a practice round when the course is closed to the public. He was looking for a way to explain that to the Chinese gallery without coming across as aloof. The first option was "Not now, later," except he figured "later" might translate to five minutes.

    Mickelson is just as popular in China as he is at home. He engages the crowd. He has fun with the staged photo calls, such as Tuesday night in the Bund district when he dressed in a traditional robe and acted the part of a war hero returning home. He also tried a dance routine (with limited success).

    "Part of my enjoyment for participating in this tournament is some of the cultural experiences we've had," he said.

    Mickelson is a two-time winner of the HSBC, including 2009 when it was the first year with World Golf Championship status.

    The HSBC is full-fledged WGC for the first time this year, attracting one of its stronger fields. Though it is missing Nos. 1 and 2 in the world -- Tiger Woods is doing corporate outings in the region, Adam Scott is resting up for the hero's welcome he is sure to receive in Australia with his green jacket from the Masters -- it has 40 of the top 50 players in the world.

    For Mickelson, it's the end of a long and fruitful year.

    He started at No. 17 in the world and has a chance this week to go to No. 2 if he were to win. He added the third leg of the career Grand Slam with his popular win at Muirfield in the British Open. He came within a fraction of an inch of 59 in the Phoenix Open, which he won.

    "I would love to finish strong," Mickelson said.

    The field includes Rory McIlroy, defending champion Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia.

    McIlroy began the year at No. 1 in the world and has fallen to No. 6. He's starting to swing the club beautifully, though, and he beat Woods in their exhibition match Monday at Mission Hills (China).

    McIlroy is still tinkering with his equipment after the switch to Nike. He feels as if he finally has it figured out, thanks to a new combination of a driver with a slightly larger head, and a ball that is softer around the greens.

    Asked if it was the best ball-driver combination he's had all season, McIlroy replied, "It's the best ball-driver I've ever had."

  • Padraig Harrington winced when asked if he would like to be a vice captain next year in Scotland at the Ryder Cup because it brings up the possibility he might not make the team. "If I didn't make the team, I'd be delighted to be a vice captain," said Harrington, who added he hasn't spoken to European captain Paul McGinley.

  • Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is indebted to Soren Kjeldsen. The Spaniard forgot his Cleveland visor last week, so he played without a hat. He won the BMW Masters in Shanghai, and for the trophy presentation, borrowed Kjeldsen's Cleveland visor so his primary sponsor could get its due in the victory photos.