This final "hurrah" of the season couldn't have been any more fun for both the golfers and true fans of the sport.
The Champions Tour team took control of the second nine holes of the two-day television tournament from Lake Las Vegas and never gave an inch. Craig Stadler made everything look easy, but how couldn't he? Stadler was shooting from the whites! Kind of unfair, don't you think? Why would the post-season 3-Tour Challenge allow guys like Stadler, Irwin and Haas (who can crush their drives as easily as guys on the PGA Tour) to step forward? Why would the Seniors even want to play the whites?
I know that Annika Sorenstam played from the same tees as Funk, Woods and Couples at the 2005 Merrill Lynch Skins Game and even outdrove Funk forcing him to put on a skirt! Now that's what I call fair!
Seriously, It's great to see such great talent gathered for an event which not only entertains but gives so much in charity to kids. The sound defeat of both the PGA and LPGA teams by a whopping -2 (Champions), +4 (PGA) and +6 (LPGA) was due in part to poor drives by the PGA team and wasted shots by the ladies. Although there were complaints about the strong winds the post-season event brought lackluster play from most of the golfers.
Lorena Ochoa did very little for Team LPGA and got little television coverage on the back-nine (and rightly so). Grace Park seemed as if she was the only person holding her team together and I kept shaking my head as I watched the ladies miss green after green short, long, left and right. As a matter of fact the ladies only scored one birdie in day-one and wound up in last place.
Team LPGA briefly took the lead on the back-nine after the eleventh but gave it back almost immediately. The ladies scores were post-season silly. Grace Park shot a 74, Cristie Kerr finished with a 75 and Lorena Ochoa choked with a 78.
The PGA team wasn't much better. Watching John Daly's huge drives fly into the woods, on the rocks and anywhere else there was trouble was a testament to the fact that Big John really needs a vacation. The final nail in the coffin for the PGA Team came at the 17th when Daly's drive landed in a lofted rocky area and his second shot fell straight down into a bush. The third for Daly dropped directly below and it looked as if he was going to hit someone, anyone! All hopes for the team were gone when the fiasco ended up as a triple-bogey for Big John and his team. John finished with a 77.
The Team PGA member who best attempted to save face during this letdown event was the incomparable Fred Couples who began his second-nine with a bogey, double-bogey start. Taking a drop at eleven it looked as if Fred's back was hurting a bit but once warmed up Couples played brilliantly almost holing a $1 million shot at the par-3 14th. With an amazing five birdies in the last six holes it surely wasn't Freddie's fault that the PGA Tour came in second place. Couples scored a 72.
Although there wasn't much television coverage surrounding Mark Calcavecchia, Mark led the PGA Tour team with a 70. He's a steady golfer and doesn't provide the entertainment factor of guys like Daly and Couples so that's why we don't see too much of him.
Craig Stadler wound up finishing with a 2-under 68 to assist the Champions Tour to win the Wendy’s 3-Tour Challenge. The exhibition event from South Shore Golf Course also had money leaders Hale Irwin and Jay Haas finish with respectable scores of 71 each.
Haas credited his longer drives to the improvement of technology. With an average drive of 275-yards, Haas stated, "If I play up to my capabilities I can still compete."
All three tours received a monetary award for their appearance. The Champions Tour players split $450,000. the PGA tour's second place got them a split of $240K and the LPGA (who should have donated their awards back to Wendy's for their mediocre performance ) shared $210K.
Not only did the Champions Tour members receive big bucks but also a year's supply of hamburgers and french fries to both the winners and their caddies!
The big winner at this tournament was not the golfers but the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. This week a tremendous outpouring of charity was evident as the foundation received $3.8 million dollars. Almost $21 million has been raised for the awareness of the adoption process in the past 14 years.
The only two problems I had while watching the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge was I was getting hungry for a Wendy's Classic and I felt as if I should be on vacation. The closest Wendy's is several miles from my home and the temperature outside is barely freezing. The unfortunate reminder that winter starts next Wednesday (and the golfing season is over) hurts the most.
Photo Credit: © AP.