The Champions Challenge golf tournament set for Tuesday at Thanksgiving Point Golf Course in Lehi could be the most unique golf tournament ever staged.
It features men and women between the ages of 23 and 66 playing in a scramble worth $550,000. And it's not just any group of golfers competing.There's Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Billy Casper, part of golf's "Big Four" back in the 1960s. There's Hale Irwin, a two-time U.S. Open champion, who is the dominant player on the PGA Senior Tour. There's John Daly and Fuzzy Zoeller, both winners of two majors who are also two of golf's most colorful figures. There's Laura Davies, Liselotte Neumann and Juli Inkster, three of the top golfers on the LPGA Tour.
Of course we can't forget 24-time winner Johnny Miller, the brainchild behind the tourney that has brought such a remarkable collection of golfers to Utah for the one-day event.
"I feel good about the field and what we're trying to accomplish here," said Miller, who designed the Thanksgiving Point course, which opened last year.
Miller jetted to Utah after spending the past four days as NBC's lead commentator at the U.S. Open in San Francisco. Others who had to hurry over to Utah after playing all four rounds were Nicklaus and Daly, while Irwin and Zoeller had more time after missing the cut. Player had to fly down from Calgary after playing in the Seniors event up there Sunday.
All of the 16 invited players participated in a pro-am Monday morning at Thanksgiving Point, which is in peak shape according to head pro Devin York.
The 16 golfers will compete in the two-person scramble beginning at 10 a.m. with $125,000 going to the winning team. In a scramble, each player hits a shot and the best shot is selected until the ball goes in the hole. It forces teams to make strategy and to take more chances than they would in a normal tournament.
The team that may be doing the most gambling is the twosome of John Daly and Laura Davies, who are both known as the longest hitters on their respective tours.
Another team to watch is that of Zoeller and former Masters champ Craig Stadler. The only all-female team is Inkster-Neumann, who have combined for 28 LPGA victories and $6.5 million in earnings.
The other five teams are all father-son teams, including Nicklaus and his 24-year-old son Michael, Miller and his 28-year-old son, John, Casper and his 37-year-old son Bobby, Irwin and his 23-year-old son Steve and Player and his 30-year-old son Wayne.
Any of the eight teams has a chance to win because of the scramble format. The twosome that gets hot and teams well together will likely emerge as the winner with a score in the low 60s.
Tickets are available at Smithtix or at the gate. To get to the golf course, take the Alpine-Highland exit and follow directions to Thanksgiving Point.