Although the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge has already been played and its outcome determined, it's still worthy of some commentary. It's the only tournament of the year which features golfers from each of the big three tours going head-to-head to determine which tour reigns supreme.
This year the PGA Tour is represented by Mark Calcavecchia, Fred Couples and John Daly. Hale Irwin, Jay Haas and Craig Stadler (can you believe Stadler is in the over-50 category?) are on the Champions Tour team and headlining for the LPGA is the group consisting of Lorena Ochoa, Grace Park and Cristie Kerr.
I'm going to go out on a limb and give my predictions as to which team takes the largest piece of the $900,000 purse. I'm picking the Champions Tour golfers to win by a landslide!
Yes, the Challenge has already been determined although event officials and WABC-TV are keeping tight-lipped about the outcome. Through searching the internet I found out which team won. I have to admit that I really didn't want to know who won and was just searching for information about the event but the you can find anything on the internet, even if you don't want to… oh well! I'll continue to stick with my predictions above for those of you who really like the suspense.
Originally played November 15th at South Shore Golf Club as a one-day event, network coverage splits it over a two-day period with viewers watching nine holes of golf per day. Although it is the fourteenth season of the Challenge, it is in it's fourth season at South Shore GC at Lake Las Vegas Resort. This is a very special course for Jack Nicklaus. It was his first private Signature Course in Nevada and has earned accolades from Golf Week this year as fifteenth among "America's Best Top 100 Residential Courses".
South Shore stretches over 6,900 yards and rises dramatically over Lake Las Vegas. The par-71 course's topography and elevation changes create a dramatic layout for both golfers and viewers alike.
But Nicklaus should watch his back. I hear Tom Fazio is creating a new golf course at Lake Las Vegas Resort scheduled to open in 2007. It's possible that the 3-Tour Challenge could possibly move to the new venue at a later date. Reflection Bay and the Falls Golf Club represent the two other exceptional golf venues located at Lake Las Vegas in an area where it was once difficult to find a good golf course.
What makes the Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge special?
First of all there is a lack of good golf at this time of the year so it's a plus if you can catch the big names from all three tours in one spot. Secondly, the players are miked so that viewers can hear their conversations and feel as if we're a member of their team. That's cool.
Third and most importantly, this event benefits kids through the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Thomas was adopted as a baby and realized throughout his life the need of awareness in the adoption process. He also loved playing golf although I understand he was as frustrated a golfer as most people on the links. He decided to combine his interest helping children find homes with his love of the sport. The two have been a great combination (like a "Classic single" and french fries) as the charity has given out over $18 million over the past 13 years.
So why did I choose the Champions to decisively win over the other two teams? I think it's because the Seniors Tour (as it was once called) now have players that are worthy of playing golf in both their own tournaments as well as on the PGA Tour. They hit the ball longer, they're stronger and can tee it up with the best players in the world.
Just look at Hale Irwin's record. He not only competed for thirty years on the PGA Tour but has won twenty times including three U.S. Opens. He represented the Ryder Cup Team admirably on five occasions and has won more money on the PGA and Champions Tour than anyone except who else…Tiger Woods!
Jay Haas is a 2005 card-carrying member of the Champions Tour and has already taken home two trophies, one at the Greater Hickory Classic and the other at the SBC Championship. Not bad for a rookie season!
And who has anything bad to say about the Walrus' performance on the Champions Tour? Although he didn't win this season, he was in a top-ten position fifteen out of twenty-eight times. I really thought that he would win at least one tournament, perhaps the Outback Steak Pro-Am?
I'm not taking any credit away from the other two teams. Fred Couples is the king of the pre and post-season and Big John crushes his drives although he should keep an eye out for the new guy on tour, Bubba Watson. I read that Bubba's average drive is in the mid-300's. Daly could be dethroned!
Of course I'm also partial to the ladies on the LPGA Tour. Grace Park and Cristie Kerr won last year's event with the assistance of veteran Juli Inkster. But both Park and Kerr have been plagued with recurring ailments. I think that with Lorena Ochoa not being in a pressure situation their team ought to fare quite well.
The Wendy's 3-Tour Challenge will be telecast by WABC Sports (channel 7 in the tri-state area) on December 17th and 18th from 4-6pm ET.
Previous Winners of the Wendy's 3 Tour Challenge include:
1992 LPGA - Nancy Lopez, Dottie Pepper, Patty Sheehan
1993 SPGA - Raymond Floyd, Jack Nicklaus, Chi Chi Rodriguez
1994 PGA - Paul Azinger, Fred Couples, Greg Norman
1995 SPGA - Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin
1996 PGA - Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Payne Stewart
1997 PGA - Fred Couples, Tom Lehman, Phil Mickelson
1998 SPGA - Hale Irwin, Gil Morgan, Larry Nelson
1999 SPGA - Hale Irwin, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson
2000 PGA - Notah Begay III, Rocco Mediate, Phil Mickelson
2001 LPGA - Dottie Pepper, Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb
2002 PGA - Rich Beem, Jim Furyk, John Daly
2003 PGA - John Daly, Mark Calcavecchia, Peter Jacobson
2004 LPGA - Cristie Kerr, Juli Inkster, Grace Park