One thing this week is already a given: For the 20th time there will not be a repeat winner in the event.
Defending champion Bernhard Langer, fourth in the Schwab Cup standings with a pair of victories this season and the leader by three strokes of this week’s Senior British Open, has a prior commitment this week in his homeland of Germany.
“He had to be there; you never get everybody,” tournament director Hollis Cavner said. “Bernhard is a great friend and [has] been great for this tournament. We’ll miss Bernhard.”
There should still be plenty of talent on display. Minnesota native Tom Lehman will draw the largest galleries, but he’ll get competition from fellow former Ryder Cup captains Tom Kite, Hal Sutton, Corey Pavin and 3M Championship newcomer Colin Montgomerie. Seven former winners are expected to be in the field: Frost, Kite, Hale Irwin, Wayne Levi, Tom Purtzer, D.A. Weibring and Jay Haas.
A female first
For the first time since the Greats of Golf challenge started 10 years ago, Saturday’s biggest name might not be Arnold Palmer. That’s because 10-time LPGA major champion Annika Sorenstam has agreed to participate in the popular tournament within the tournament, joining fellow LPGA greats Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley.
Sorenstam has not played competitive golf since stepping aside in 2008. Cavner said he didn’t have to push too hard to get Sorenstam to commit, but convincing the PGA Tour to green-light the idea was far more than a formality. In the end it was roundly approved.
“We love to be on the front end of a groundbreaking deal,” Cavner said. “Quite honestly I’m shocked the LPGA has never done something like this, using their legends.”
The LPGA players will be captained by Palmer. Among the other Greats scheduled to appear are Johnny Miller, Lee Trevino and Dave Stockton.