Golfers on the PGA Tour Champions return to the course after more than five months away when The Ally Challenge tees off on Friday. The senior tour event will be the first tournament played since the Hoag Classic, won by Ernie Els, on March 8. The season was suspended because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
While the professionals are excited to return, three golfers in particular are eager to compete. Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, and K.J. Choi all turned 50 during the 21-week break, and had to wait until The Ally Challenge to make their debuts.
Odds to Win The Ally Challenge
Weir told reporters on Wednesday that waiting to play at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc, Michigan was tough.
“I was excited,” Weir said. “I was excited back in May when I turned 50, for the other event that was supposed to be in Michigan here for the Senior PGA. Obviously, here we are now, and [I’ve] been anticipating this for awhile.”
Weir took some time during the break to play on the Korn Ferry Tour to prepare for when the PGA Tour Champions season resumed.
“I think for myself, I’ve only played a handful of tournaments,” Weir said. “I guess looking that we’re in the end of July here and I’ve only played six or seven events. Most of us probably aren’t very tournament-sharp and that sometimes leads to making some little silly mistakes sometimes, when you’re not tournament-sharp, so [I] need to be mindful of that.”
PGA Tour Champions Golfers Use Other Tournaments
With the PGA Tour Champions season on hold, Weir wasn’t the only player looking at other avenues to keep competitive. Bernhard Langer, who turns 63 next month, played with two other PGA Tour Champions golfers when he, Vijay Singh, and Els played together in the RBC Heritage at Hilton Head, South Carolina.
“At Hilton Head, there were (sic) a lot of housing along the edges of the fairways, and people were out with their chairs and watching us and cheering us on,” Langer said. “So we’re down there by the first fairway and we’re all sort of in the same area and people are cheering us on. ‘Hi, Bernie, hi, Ernie, Vijay, good luck.’ I yelled back, ‘Yeah, you think you’re watching the wrong Tour, like the Champions Tour out here, three guys over 50.’ Anyways, we’re having fun.”
Another golfer who took advantage of the break is Colin Montgomerie. He embarked on a rigorous workout plan that included Pilates and strength training, and dropped 40 pounds.
“We’ve been quite strict in Europe, not leaving the house so I’ve lost about 40 pounds which was good,” Montgomerie said. “I needed to do that. I just haven’t eaten as much, so that’s easy enough.”
Kelly Ready to Get Back to Work
The All Challenge defending champion, Jerry Kelly also took advantage of the PGA Tour restart when he played at the Workday Charity Open nearly three weeks ago. Kelly finished in a very respectable tie for 22nd, but was ready to come back and play with his peers, telling Mlive.com he’s excited the PGA Tour Champions season has resumed.
“I’m itching to get back on the PGA Tour Champions,” Kelly said. “Playing the regular Tour last week was great, really good time. But as I told the youngsters, I’m looking forward to getting back to my day job.”