In one of most unique tournaments on the Champions Tour, the top two money leaders are hoping to add to their earnings at the Legends of Golf. Steve Stricker has amassed the most money this season, and Jerry Kelly is right behind him.
So it made sense the two would partner up for the twosome competition at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri. Not surprisingly the duo are the 2/1 favorite to win, according to William Hill.
David Toms and Steve Flesch are next at 8/1, while Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman are next at 9/1. The defending championship team of Vijay Singh and Carlos Franco are 12/1.
Different Format Focuses on Teamwork
The tournament is not like typical 54-hole events on the Champions Tour. This one features two-man teams competing over 67 holes, using four-ball and alternate-shot formats. There are two divisions. One is the Champions Division for golfers 50-65. That category will count towards the official money. The other is the Legends Division, which is for pros 65 and older.
This unique tournament created in 1978 has been credited as the precursor to the Champions Tour. It proved so successful that the PGA Tour made plans to expand offerings for golfers over 50 years old.
Tom Watson has paired with Andy North for the past several years and both look forward to participating. North told Ozarksfirst.com that the format is what keeps him coming back.
“We wish we could play more of this kind of stuff,” North said. “It’s not exactly relaxing, but it’s a different way of playing and you have fun doing it and you’re playing with a friend, and that makes it pretty special.
Watson, who is fresh off his victory at the Par 3 contest at the Masters, believes putting is an aspect of the weekend that will be the winner’s advantage.
“The putting is what makes you a champion,” Watson said. “If you don’t putt well, you’re not going to win. You can hit the ball great, but if the putter’s not working, there’s always going to be someone who putts better than you that’s going to take that first prize.”
Top Putters on Tour
That should favor both of the top teams. Toms is No. 1 on the Champions Tour in putting average at 1.690. Kelly is right behind him at 1.598. Their partners are a bit more down the list. Flesch is 34th at 1.754, while Stricker is 45th.
All but Toms have won an event on tour this year. Stricker has won two events, and Kelly and Flesch one. Flesch won last week’s Mitsubishi Electric Classic and believes the Champions Tour has been great for his career.
“You never know if you’re going to be able to win again,” Flesch said. “It wasn’t that I lost my passion for the game, but I just kind of got a little sideways on how I was approaching things. So having a second chance and playing the PGA Tour Champions has reignited that flame and my desire.”