The PGA Tour Champions picks up after a two-week break with the Sanford International at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Friday. The tournament will be unique in that it will be the first PGA Tour event with fans in the galleries.

Steve Stricker Sanford International
Steve Stricker won the Sanford International in 2018, and is the favorite to win the tournament again. (Image: Getty)

Having crowds, even if they’re limited to 5,000 per day, will be a welcome site. One golfer who has always enjoyed crowds is Rich Beem. He said having people outside the ropes will be great to see.

“Rory McIlroy was ahead of it, he said it’s hard to get energized to get out there when it’s just yourself and your caddie and the other players in your group,” Beem said. “There’s nobody out there to kind of get you fired up and excited, because these guys want to show off as well, they want to get out there and enjoy the fans and feed off of them.”

Testing Limits

Fans are returning at a time when South Dakota has been identified as a COVID-19 hotspot. Even though new coronavirus infections have declined for seven weeks in a row nationwide, 19% of all people tested in the state have come back positive. Infectious disease experts attributed the surge to the recent Sturgis motorcycle rally and the reopening of universities in nearby Iowa.

The title sponsor of this tournament — Sanford Health — is the official COVID-19 mobile testing partner for the PGA Tour. Sanford’s mobile testing labs will be on-site to test all participants

Odds to Win Sanford International

BetMGM Westgate Coral 
Steve Stricker 9/2 5/1 9/2
Ernie Els 9/1 10/1 9/1
Bernhard Langer 10/1 10/1 10/1
Kevin Sutherland 12/1 12/1 12/1
Fred Couples 14/1 16/1 14/1
Miguel Angel Jimenez 14/1 16/1 14/1
Retief Goosen 16/1 16/1 16/1
Robert Karlsson 16/1 16/1 16/1
Jerry Kelly 18/1 20/1 18/1
Rod Pampling 18/1 18/1 18/1
Scott Parel 20/1 20/1 20/1
Woody Austin 22/1 20/1 22/1
Colin Montgomerie 33/1 30/1 33/1
Brett Quigley 40/1 40/1 40/1
David Toms 40/1 40/1 40/1
Mike Weir 40/1 40/1 40/1
Tim Petrovic 40/1 40/1 40/1
Dicky Pride 50/1 50/1 50/1
Tom Lehman 50/1 50/1 50/1

One golfer fans will probably flock to see is Bernhard Langer. The newly-turned 63-year-old will be trying to earn his second victory of the season. He is a 10/1 pick at BetMGM to win.

“It’s been a great season,” Langer said. “I started off really well the first five tournaments we played. I could have won every time I teed it up, but I only won one of them. Then we got into, what was it, four-and-a-half months off, or five months almost. Came back fairly good, had some good finishes, got into a playoff a couple weeks ago and didn’t win. But the game is still there, so I’m excited for the next few weeks, the next few tournaments.”

Steve Stricker, who won this event in 2018, is the favorite at 9/2. He is followed by Ernie Els at 9/1.

We take a look at the golfers we think have a chance to win the Sanford International, as well as those that might be well behind the favorites.

South Dakota Hot Spots

Steve Stricker (9/2)

Since the restart, Stricker has improved in the three events he’s played, most recently finishing in a tie for fifth at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National. He won the Sanford International in 2018, but wasn’t there last year to defend his title.

Bernhard Langer (11/1)

The ageless wonder is trying to catch Hale Irwin for the most career wins on the PGA Tour Champions. Langer has 41, just four shy of Irwin’s mark of 45. In his last four events, he’s posted three top 10s, including a playoff loss at the Charles Schwab Series at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge.

Avoid like the Plague?

Fred Couples (14/1)

There’s no doubt that Couples is knocking on the door for a victory this season, but he’s never played the Sanford International. This field is too deep to take a chance on him.

Jerry Kelly (18/1)

Kelly won a major at the Senior Players Championship in August, but in the two events since then, he’s been lackluster. Kelly finished tied for 29th at the Charles Schwab Series at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge and tied for 53rd at the Charles Schwab Series at Ozarks National.