2015 Champions Tour Notable News
Thursday, January 22, the day before the first official round of the 2015 Champions Tour season, marked 35 years since the SENIOR TOUR was formally approved by the Tournament Policy Board of the PGA TOUR.
Gary Player celebrated a couple of momentous milestones in 2015 - the 50th anniversary of completing the career Grand Slam and turning 80 on Novemebr1. When Player teed it up at the 1965 U.S. Open at Bellerive Country Club with three major titles to his name, he completed the Grand Slam with a victory over Australian Kel Nagle in an 18-hole playoff.
Christy Kite, wife of World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Kite, passed away on Friday, January 23 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Three significant people in golf passed away the first week of February. Australian Kel Nagle died at 94. He won the 1960 Open Championship and was later inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Charlie Sifford died aged 92. Sifford was the first African-American golfer on the PGA TOUR in 1960 and, in 2004, was the first black player to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame. Billy Casper, one of the most prolific PGA TOUR winners in history and long considered among the sport’s finest putters, suffered a heart attack and died in Utah. He was also a World Golf Hall of Fame inductee and died aged 83.
Elusive albatross’ were posted in back-to-back weeks on the Champions Tour for the first time since 2005. Bart Bryant’s albatross during the Allianz Championship was followed by Kevin Sutherland recording the feat at the ACE Group Classic. In 2005, three albatrosses were posted during the season with two coming in consecutive events.
The PGA of America formally announced Davis Love III as the 2016 USA Team Ryder Cup captain to face off against European Team captain Darren Clarke at Hazeltine National in Minnesota. Love named Minnesota native and two-time Charles Schwab Cup champion Tom Lehman as his assistant captain.
The Champions Tour was well represented with 12 players competing at the PGA TOUR’s Puerto Rico Open. Those who made the cut included Lee Janzen (T16), Stephen Ames (T47) and Guy Boros (T64). Glenn Day (T47) and Brandt Jobe (T70), who both turn 50 later this year, also made the cut.
Ten Champions Tour professionals competed in The Masters at Augusta National April 6-12. All but one, Miguel Angel Jimenez, have claimed the title. Jimenez, who finished T4 in the 2014 Masters Tournament, was joined by Fred Couples, Ben Crenshaw, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Larry Mize, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh, Tom Watson and Ian Woosnam.
Calvin Peete, a winner of 12 PGA TOUR events, died Wednesday, April 29 in Atlanta, Ga. He was 71. With his recognizable swing because of his permanently bent arm, Peete was the fourth African-American to win on TOUR, joining Pete Brown, Charlie Sifford and Lee Elder. He played on two U.S. Ryder Cup Teams (1983, ’85) and won the Vardon Trophy (low scoring average) in 1984. Peete played the Champions Tour between 1994 and 2000 where he made 158 starts, with his best finish a fourth-place effort at the 1994 Bell Atlantic Classic. In 2002, Peete was inducted into the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame.
Just two days after Peete’s death, Pete Brown, the first African-American to win on the PGA TOUR, passed away in Augusta, Ga. aged 80.
Mitsubishi Electric Championship winner Miguel Angel Jimenez surpassed Colin Montgomerie’s tally of nine European Tour aces when he holed in one for the 10th time on the European Tour during the BMW PGA Championship. It was his third ace this season and his second in consecutive tournaments, after also making an ace at the Spanish Open.
A new Champions Tour event was announced – the American Family Insurance Golf Championship – to be played in Madison, Wis., from June 22-26, 2016, on the University Ridge Golf Course. The inaugural American Family Insurance Championship will feature an 81-player field competing for a $2 million purse over 54-holes. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the Steve Stricker American Family Insurance Foundation and the American Family Children’s Hospital. Stricker, a 12-time PGA TOUR winner who resides in Madison, turns 50 in January of 2017 and will host the event.
World Golf Hall of Fame member Lee Trevino was named golf pro emeritus at The Greenbrier Resort, becoming the third golfing great so honored. He takes over from Tom Watson, who served from 2005-15. Before that, the Greenbrier’s original pro emeritus was Sam Snead, who passed away in 2002.
The 81 juniors from The First Tee who will participate in this year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach (Sept. 21-27) were named on Golf Channel’s Morning Drive on Wednesday, July 1. In its 12th year, more than 630 participants from The First Tee chapters have benefited from the opportunity to play in the tournament by meeting and learning from Champions Tour players and amateurs in the field, utilizing the leadership and life skills they have acquired at their chapters.
Eight players were tied for the lead in the opening round of The Senior Open Championship, the largest number to share the opening-round lead in Champions Tour history. The first round also saw two players, Barry Lane and Steve Jones, record albatross’ at Sunningdale’s opening hole. These were the third and fourth double eagles on the Champions Tour in 2015.
With his runner-up finish at The Senior Open Championship, Bernhard Langer now has 11 consecutive top-10 finishes in Champions Tour majors and is the only player to finish in the top 10 in all five majors in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Langer has finished in the top 10 in 30 of the 38 Champions Tour majors in his career.
The Greats of Golf Challenge at the 3M Championship on Saturday ended in a two-way tie. Team Greatest Ever (Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player) and Team Jacklin (Captain Tony Jacklin, Johnny Miller, Dave Stockton and Tom Weiskopf) both finished with a 17-under-par 55 score using the scramble format.
It was announced in August that Mitsubishi Electric extended their title sponsorship of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai through 2020 which will mark a 12-year period as title sponsor of that event. Additionally, Mitsubishi Electric also announced a five-year title sponsorship of the Mitsubishi Electric Classic (formerly Greater Gwinnett Championship) at TPC Sugarloaf in Duluth, Georgia. The company had previously acted as presenting sponsor for the three years of the tournament’s duration. It marks the first time since 2008 that one company has served as title sponsor of multiple events in the same season (AT&T had two events in 2008).
The 2015 Pacific Links China Championship was cancelled in late August following tragic explosions on August 12 in the port area of Tianjin, China. The tournament, the first Champions Tour event to be played in China, was scheduled for September 14-20 and was to be held at one of China’s most-exclusive golf courses, the 27 Club in Tianjin.
It was announced in September that a new Champions Tour event will be played in Richmond, Va., from October 31-November 6, 2016, at the Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course in Richmond, Va. The Dominion Charity Classic will be the first Champions Tour or PGA TOUR event in the Richmond area in 25 years. It will also have increased stature in the new Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs for 2016. The Dominion Charity Classic, with a $2 million purse and 54-player field, will be the last Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs event before the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
At age 66 years and seven days, World Golf Hall of Fame member Tom Watson shot 69-68 (-3) to make the cut at the KLM Open on the European Tour. Watson is the second-oldest player to make a European Tour cut. The oldest is fellow World Golf Hall of Fame member Sir Bob Charles, aged 71 years and 261 days at the 2008 New Zealand Open. Watson finished the tournament T47 at 7-under-par with a pair of 68s on the weekend.
The Broadmoor Golf Club, in Colorado Springs, Colo., was announced as the host site for the 2018 U.S. Senior Open Championship. This will be the eighth USGA championship contested at The Broadmoor and the sixth on the resort’s East Course. The dates for the championship are June 28-July 1. The U.S. Senior Open Championship was first played in 1980. In 2016, the U.S. Senior Open will be contested at Scioto Country Club, in Columbus, Ohio. Salem Country Club, in Peabody, Mass., will host the 2017 U.S. Senior Open.
Fifty-four chapters of The First Tee were represented in this year’s field at the Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. In the 12th year of the tournament, more than 630 participants have had the opportunity to experience the unique event.
It was announced in September that Caves Valley will host the 2017 Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship the week of July 10-16, 2017. This marks the fifth time the championship will be contested in Maryland. The Philadelphia Cricket Club will host the tournament in 2016.
The PowerShares QQQ Championship – to be contested at a Los Angeles site to be announced – will be held October 24-30, 2016, with Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. selected as host of the 2017 and 2018 events. The PowerShares QQQ Championship, with a 72-player field and a $2 million purse, will be the first of three events in the new Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs, with the Dominion Charity Classic and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship rounding out the inaugural Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs that will determine the season-long Charles Schwab Cup champion.
With a new charitable giving program and overwhelming support from the Calgary community, the Shaw Charity Classic announced a fundraising record for the third straight year with a $3,942,712 donation that will be shared amongst 99 youth-based charities in Alberta. It marked the largest contribution by a Champions Tour event in a single season. Charitable contributions skyrocketed in 2015 with the addition of Birdies for Kids – a program backed by AltaLink that expanded the Shaw Charity Classic’s reach across the province.
The 2016 Champions Tour schedule features 26 tournaments in 19 different states and three countries outside the United States with total prize money exceeding $55 million and an average purse of $2.1 million. The total prizemoney figure is the fourth-highest total in Champions Tour history and the average purse figure is the highest since the Champions Tour began in 1980.