What do a now-defunct telecommunications company, a real estate development company, a thriving golf equipment manufacturer, a deluxe hotel chain, a multinational financial services corporation, an international fast-food restaurant, an information solutions organization, a packaged food company and the worldwide leader in the manufacturing and sales of electric and electronic equipment have in common?
Not much, you say. Well, they've all been, or currently are associated with Champions Tour tournament golf in Hawaii. And they're about to be joined by a property acquisition company -- Pacific Links International.
Following Dan Forsman's season-opening victory at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship will be contested at Kapolei Golf Course, Sept. 10-16, and the tournament will mark the 39th official Champions Tour event in Hawaii since its inception. Kapolei will be the fifth venue to host an official Champions Tour event in Hawaii, following Royal Kaanapali, Ko Olina, Hualalai and Turtle Bay.
The Champions Tour began in 1980 but didn't contest its first official event in Hawaii until 1987 when Orville Moody won the GTE Kaanapali Classic at Royal Kaanapali on Maui. Since then, the Champions Tour has made at least one visit to Hawaii each season. This year will mark the 13th time in 26 years that the Champions Tour has held two events in Hawaii in the same year.
The Senior Skins Game, an unofficial event on the Champions Tour, was also played in Hawaii all but one of its 24 years. In 1989, the exhibition event was played in California.
The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai, in Kaupulehu-Kona, was first played in 1997 and continues to be contested at the same course, a current run of 16 consecutive years, and the third-longest span at one club in Champions Tour history following TPC Tampa Bay (21 years) and Newport Beach CC (17 years).
Ko Olina hosted a one-off Senior Invitational in 1992 when Chi Chi Rodriguez won by six strokes over Charles Coody, setting the record for the largest winning margin for a Champions Tour event in Hawaii at the time. In 2005, Hale Irwin beat Dana Quigley by nine strokes at Turtle Bay to surpass that record. Two years later, Fred Funk set the all-time Champions Tour record for the largest winning margin in a 54-hole event when he won by 11 over Loren Roberts, also at Turtle Bay.
Speaking of Roberts, he tied a Champions Tour record when he shot 25-under to win the 2006 MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. He made an all-time-record 26 birdies during the event, a record since matched by Fred Couples at last year's AT&T Championship in Texas. Roberts' final-round 61 is the low finish by a winner in Champions Tour history, a record he shares with three other players.
Hale Irwin is perhaps the "King of Hawaii" when it comes to golf in The Aloha State. Irwin has eight Champions Tour victories and three runner-up finishes in Hawaii. Other multiple winners of Champions Tour events in Hawaii include Bob Charles with three titles and Don Bies, George Archer, Dana Quigley, Loren Roberts, and Fred Funk, all with two wins each.
Irwin's 20 PGA TOUR titles include the 1981 Hawaiian Open. He has an all-time-record 45 wins on the Champions Tour and his 45th victory came at the 2007 MasterCard Championship at Hualalai. He holds the record for the most victories in a single event on the Champions Tour, winning the Kaanapali Classic (which became the Turtle Bay Championship) six times. Five of those Kaanapali Classic titles were consecutive victories. To put that achievement into perspective, just four players have won four (not five) consecutive titles in a single event on the PGA TOUR -- Tom Morris, Jr., Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods (twice) -- so he's in some pretty good company, or ahead of the curve depending on how you look at it.
"It's hard to put your finger on it," said Irwin, when questioned about his great success in Hawaii. "Other than there's something about the air, the people, in the land. It's sort of like coming home. It's always a treat."
Irwin is also the only player in the 11-year history of the season-long Charles Schwab Cup to claim the trophy at a tournament other than the season-ending event. You guessed it -- his Cup-clinching victory came in Hawaii, at the 2002 Turtle Bay Championship, which was the 32nd of 35 events that season.
With Kapolei becoming the fifth venue to host an official Champions Tour event, here's something to note -- of the 332 total aces that have been recorded on the Champions Tour since records were kept in 1984, seven have come in Hawaii. At least one ace has been recorded at each of the four courses where the Champions Tour has played so there might be a good chance we see a hole in one during the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship at Kapolei in September.
Here is a list of holes-in-one scored in official Champions Tour events in Hawaii:
Several other Champions Tour records of note also have a Hawaii connection:
• Playing a bogey-free tournament has been achieved just 28 times in Champions Tour history but four players have done it in Hawaii -- Joe Inman (2000), D.A. Weibring (2006), Fred Funk (2007) and Corey Pavin (2011), with Funk the only one of the four to go on and win the tournament. Later that year, Funk won in Mexico on the PGA TOUR and joined Raymond Floyd and Craig Stadler as the only players to win on both the Champions Tour and the PGA TOUR in the same season.
• Just nine players have made four eagles during a single event since the Champions Tour began in 1980. Three of those nine have done so in Hawaii -- Rocky Thompson (1992) and Bob Charles (1996) at Kaanapali and Bruce Lietzke at Hualalai in 2003.
• Of the 38 Champions Tour events played in Hawaii thus far, four (1993, 1995, 2002, 2005) have been decided in playoffs. Two-time PGA Championship winner Dave Stockton was in two of those playoffs (1993, 1995), losing both times.
• Golf in Hawaii is not all about good scoring and setting records, though. When the wind gets up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean golf can become extremely difficult. The highest third round scoring average in Champions Tour history, 79.205, came at the 1990 GTE Kaanapali Classic, a record that still stands today.
|Champions Tour history in Hawaii|
• More records are sure to be matched or broken when the Pacific Links Hawaii Championship tees off at Kapolei on Sept. 14. We'll only know when the inaugural tournament is complete and a winner is crowned.