PGA Tour Champions tournaments are, to some extent, about memories, featuring golfers that you followed, admired and often tried to emulate.
This week you will be able to see some of those golf legends up close and personal, including eight Hall of Famers who will be competing in the Allianz Championship starting Friday on the Old Course at Broken Sound in Boca Raton.
Remember these guys?
Bernhard Langer, Nick Price, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Curtis Strange. All of them will be playing starting Friday and ending Sunday in the three-day Allianz, won last year by Paul Goydos.
“Our field this year rivals any major you’re going to see on the PGA Tour Champions,” tournament director Ryan Dillon said.
Yes, the tour’s name for over-50 players is slightly different from a year ago when it was called the Champions Tour.
If the extremely successful names in the field aren’t enough to attract you, you can also likely look forward to a close finish. In the past six years, the Allianz has featured three playoffs, and the largest margin of victory in those years has been two strokes.
Defending champion Goydos said there is a key reason for the stellar field. “It’s a wonderful golf course,” he said of the Old Course.
This year the tournament will be playing in its 10th year at Broken Sound, which prompted Dillon to say, “That’s a pretty good feat.”
Dillon recalled he had six months to put together his first Allianz.
“I had a huge head of hair back then, and a lot fewer pounds,” he said with a laugh. “We needed to gain people’s trust, and we needed to get integrated into the community. Now, we’ve been embraced by the community.”
Dillon has successfully accomplished that feat despite the economic collapse that hit the country and the golf tournament starting around 2008.
At one point, for several years, the tournament granted fans free admission. That has gone away, but the size, health and quality of the event has moved on, with charity being a main beneficiary.
“We started making a little more money, so we could spend a little more money,” Dillon said. “Last year was a banner year for us, particularly for the charities. We’re looking to keep building on that banner year.”
That will make the Boca Raton Regional Hospital quite happy, since it is the main beneficiary of Allianz’s success, receiving more than $1 million in the past two years, according to Dillon.
With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Dillon pointed out, “We’re playing on Super Bowl week this year, and we’re going to kick the Super Bowl’s butt.”
Then Dillon made it clear that fans need not worry about missing Carolina vs. Denver (6:30 p.m. kickoff) in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50.
“We’ve moved our tee times up an hour, and that will let people leave and get to their Super Bowl parties in plenty of time,” he said. “We should be concluding on Sunday about 3:30 or 4 p.m.”
Then, in all seriousness but with a smile, Dillon concluded, “The future is looking pretty bright for us.”
For ticket information, fans can call 561-241-4653 or visit www.Alllianz championship.com.
THAT’S A FACT, JACK
Tiger Woods, still recovering from back surgery, celebrated his 40th birthday on Dec. 30 at his new restaurant in Jupiter. Woods was serenaded by singer Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame. What has Woods been doing during recuperation? “Been watching a lot of football,” he said on Twitter.
Woods also took time to congratulate Jack Nicklaus on his 76th birthday on Jan. 21 by writing, “Happy Birthday, Jack, 76 years young and could probably shoot your age anytime you wanted to.”