A look at the rookies coming to the Champions Tour in 2013December 23, 2012
Champions Tour staff
Several new players will join the Champions Tour when the 2013 season gets under way. Here's a look at those who turned 50 late in 2012 or will turn 50 in 2013.
Turned 50 on Nov. 18, 2012
Bryant was born in Texas, the son of a Baptist pastor. He attended New Mexico State University, where he was a two-time All-American. He turned professional in 1986 but did not win on the PGA TOUR until the 2004 Valero Texas Open. At 41, he was the oldest first-time winner on the TOUR in nine years. In 2005, he won the Memorial Tournament and the season-ending TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola to finish ninth on the money list with earnings of $3,249,136. It was more than he had earned in total in his first eighteen seasons. His good run of form also propelled him into the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking. The win at Memorial was particularly memorable, as Bryant's tee shot on the 72nd hole found a hazard but he was able to get it up and down for par and secure his one-shot victory over Fred Couples. Bryant's elder brother Brad has won on the both the PGA TOUR and the Champions Tour and they are one of 12 winning brother combinations on TOUR.
Turned 50 on Oct. 19, 2012
Henninger was born in California and was a walk-on at the University of Southern California. He turned pro in 1987 and after winning three tournaments on the Web.com Tour in 1992, then joined the PGA TOUR in 1993. His first TOUR win came in a playoff at the 1994 Deposit Guaranty Golf Classic in Madison, Miss., which was shortened by rain to only 36 holes (this win predated current PGA TOUR rules which require 54 holes to be played for a tournament to be considered "official"). His only other TOUR win came in the same tournament (renamed the Southern Farm Bureau Classic) in 1999 when he won by three strokes in another rain-shortened affair. Henninger's best result in a major championship was in the 1995 Masters, where he shared the lead after 54 holes but closed with 76, leaving him in a tie for 10th place. Henninger, who lost his PGA TOUR card after the 2002 season, resides in Oregon with his wife and three children. His Brian Henninger Foundation has donated over $700,000 to numerous causes, mostly in the Pacific Northwest.
Turned 50 on Dec. 8, 2012
Elkington was born in Australia and became the first prominent Australian to play college golf in the United States when he attended the University of Houston. He turned pro in 1985 and has 10 wins on the PGA TOUR, all of which were in the 1990s. He has 10 top-10 finishes in major championships, including a win in the 1995 PGA Championship, and a tie for second in the 2005 PGA Championship behind winner Phil Mickelson. He spent over 50 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Ranking from 1995 to 1998.
Elkington was a member of the International Team in the 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000 Presidents Cup. In 1995, he was awarded the Vardon Trophy, given annually by the PGA of America to the TOUR player with the lowest scoring average. Elkington's professional career has been hampered by constant battles with allergies. He is active on twitter (@elkpga) and operates a social golf network (secretinthedirt.com) where he regularly posts topical cartoons that he produces himself.
Turned 50 on Nov. 26, 2012
Inman was born in North Carolina and was a distinguished member of the University of North Carolina golf team – a three-time All-American. In his senior year, Inman received the Haskins Award given annually to the college player of the year and was the individual medalist in the 1984 NCAA Division I Championship. His 17-under performance in that tournament broke the record set 13 years earlier by Ben Crenshaw and stood until 2000, when it was smashed by the 23-under performance of Oklahoma State’s Charles Howell III.
Inman turned professional in 1985 and played on the PGA TOUR from 1985-95, and won two events. His first win came in the 1987 Provident Classic by one stroke over Bill Glasson and Rocco Mediate. Inman's second win came during a 5-man playoff at the 1993 Buick Southern Open. His best finish in a major championship was T14 at the 1990 U.S. Open. After his TOUR playing days were over, Inman returned to his alma mater in 1998 to take over the reins of the men's golf program. In 2011, he decided to return to professional golf and play on the Web.com Tour to prepare for the Champions Tour where his older brother, Joe, is a three-time winner.
Turned 50 on Dec. 17, 2012
Mediate was born in Pennsylvania and played on the golf team at Florida Southern College with fellow PGA TOUR pro Lee Janzen. He turned professional in 1985 and his career has been marred by back trouble, alleviating the problem by using a long putter. In 1991 he became the first player to win on the PGA TOUR using a long putter when he won the Doral-Ryder Open. He picked up another victory at the 1993 Kmart Greater Greensboro Open, but he then had a long layoff due to a ruptured disk. He underwent major back surgery in 1999, but back pain returned in 2004 and later nearly ended his career. Mediate returned to the TOUR in 1996 playing under a special medical extension and performed steadily. He picked up wins in 1999, 2000 and 2002. After improving his fitness to minimize his back problems, he returned to using a conventional putter in 2003.
At the 2006 Masters, Mediate was in contention to win the event on the final day until he took a septuple-bogey ten on the par three 12th hole. His best finish in a major championship was a memorable playoff loss to Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. During the 2010 Frys.com Open, which Mediate won, he holed out all four days. He started on Thursday, with a hole-in-one on the 189 yard par-3 3rd hole. On Friday, he holed out from 160 yards on the par-4 4th hole for an eagle, followed on Saturday with a hole-out from 111 yards on the par-5 15th hole, also for eagle. On Sunday, he was tied for the lead on the 17th hole when he holed from 116 yards for eagle to take a two-shot lead. He parred the 18th to win the tournament. Mediate, an enthusiastic poker player, contested the 2005 World Series of Poker’s Main Event. He was an on-course reporter for Golf Channel in 2007.
50 on February 20, 2013
Roe is an English European Tour professional who was just two strokes off the lead after the third round of the 2003 British Open when he was disqualified. He and his playing partner, Jesper Parnevik, had failed to swap their scorecards before play, meaning that both players had ended up signing for the wrong scores which resulted in their automatic disqualification. The incident led the R&A to amend the rules and failure to exchange scorecards now no longer results in disqualification. Roe, who was a high-board diving champion in his youth, played for 21 years on the European Tour winning three times, including the prestigious French Open in 1994. He also represented England in the World Cup in 1989, 1994 and 1995. During his career, Roe has suffered quite a few accidents. In 1995, he was hit on the head by a stray golf ball which resulted in severe headaches. In July 1999, he tore ligaments in the ring and little fingers of his left hand after grabbing the collar of his dog, resulting in 20 months away from the game. Roe retired from tournament golf in 2006 and now works as a commentator for Sky Sports. He is also a highly respected coach, focusing on the short game, and counts Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher amongst the players he has instructed.
Turns 50 on Feb. 21, 2013
Turner was born in New Zealand, attended Oklahoma University in the United States but spent most of his career playing in Australia and Europe. He won four tournaments on the European Tour and achieved a career-best ranking of 18th on the European Tour Order of Merit in 1997. He has represented New Zealand in international competitions many times and was one of Peter Thomson’s two wild card selections (along with Frank Nobilo) for the winning International Team in the 1998 Presidents Cup. Since retiring from tournament golf, Turner has been involved in golf course design and corporate entertaining. Turner's brothers are former national cricket captain Glenn Turner and award-winning poet Brian Turner. His sister-in-law Sukhi Turner is a former mayor of Dunedin in New Zealand.
Turns 50 on Feb. 22, 2013
Singh was born in Fiji. His father was an airplane technician who taught him the game. Two years after turning professional, in 1984, he won the Malaysian PGA Championship. He served as a club professional in Malaysia for a while before earning playing privileges on the European Tour in 1989, where he won immediately at the Volvo Open Championship that same year. Singh’s first PGA TOUR win came in 1993, at the Buick Classic in a playoff over Mark Wiebe and he was named Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. In 1998, Singh won the PGA Championship and followed with a win at The Masters in 2000. When Singh won his third major, the 2004 PGA Championship, his final round 76 was the highest winning score by a major champion since 1955. Singh finished the 2004 season with a career-best nine victories, 18 top-10s, and a record $10,905,166 in earnings and was the Player of the Year. Singh won 22 times on the PGA TOUR since turning 40 – beating the record previously set by Sam Snead. His 34 career victories are the most on the PGA TOUR by a non-American player and he is a lifetime PGA TOUR member. Nicknamed “The Big Fijian”, he has been an International team member at several Presidents Cup competitions and was No. 1 in the Official World Rankings for 32 weeks in 2004 and 2005. Singh was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2006. He also won the FedExCup in 2008.
Turns 50 on March 12, 2013
Way was born in England and turned pro in 1982 after playing in the 1981 Walker Cup. He quickly found success on the European Tour, winning the 1982 KLM Dutch Open, one of three European Tour victories. Way was one of Europe's most promising young golfers, and he represented Europe in the Ryder Cup in 1983 and 1985, when Europe captured the trophy which had been in American hands for twenty-eight years. He had an outstanding Ryder Cup record of six wins, two losses and one halved match. He represented England in the 1985 World Cup, defeated Sandy Lyle in a playoff at the 1986 Whyte & Mackay PGA Championship and won the European Open in 1987. Way did not sustain his early success. His last top 100 finish on the Order of Merit was in 1993 and his last full season on the European Tour was 1996.
Billy Ray Brown
Turns 50 on April 5, 2013
Brown was born and raised in Texas and played the PGA TOUR in the 1980s and 1990s, and is currently an on-course reporter for Golf Channel. He attended the University of Houston and was an All-American all four years. Brown had three wins on the PGA TOUR, two victories coming in playoffs, but his career was cut short by an injury and subsequent surgeries to his wrist. His best finish in a major championship was T-3 at the 1990 U.S. Open. He had 17 top-10 finishes on the PGA TOUR in his career. Brown's father, Charlie, and his brother, Chuck, both played professional football as offensive linemen.
Turns 50 on June 23, 2013
Montgomerie was born in Scotland. He won several important amateur events in the United Kingdom before becoming one of the first British golfers to go to a United States college, attending Houston Baptist University, where he played on the golf team and became its top player. He turned professional in 1988, and was named the Rookie of the Year on the European Tour that season. He quickly developed into one of Europe's top professionals, winning his first event at the 1989 Portuguese Open by eight shots, and making his Ryder Cup debut in 1991. He won a record eight European Tour Order of Merit titles, including a streak of seven consecutively from 1993 to 1999, and was victorious in 31 European Tour events. He has not, to date, won a major title or an official tournament on the PGA TOUR but he has finished runner-up on five occasions in major championships. Despite his disappointments in the majors, Montgomerie is heralded as one of the greatest Ryder Cup players of all time. To date he has been a member of the European team on eight occasions, and has never lost in a singles match. Mongomerie captained the successful European Ryder Cup team in 2010. At the end of 2004, Montgomerie was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. In 2005 he became the first man to win 20 million Euros on the European Tour. In March 2009, Montgomerie played in his milestone 500th European Tour event at the Open de Andalucia. Montgomerie finished T6 this year at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, his highest finish on the European Tour in over four years.
Turns 50 on Aug. 14, 2013
Coceres is from Argentina. He spent many years on the European Tour before becoming a U.S.-based PGA TOUR member. He is one of 11 children who grew up in a two-bedroom house before becoming a caddie and teaching himself the game. Cóceres turned professional in 1986 and joined the European Tour after successfully negotiating the 1990 qualifying school. In 2000, he reached a career high of 13th on the Order of Merit. His two European Tour wins came at the 1994 Heineken Open Catalonia and the 2000 Dubai Desert Classic. In 2001, Coceres switched to the PGA TOUR where his first season was very inconsistent, with seven missed cuts and only two top-10 finishes. However, those two top-10s were wins at the WorldCom Classic–The Heritage of Golf and the National Car Rental Golf Classic Disney. He was the first Argentine to win on the PGA TOUR since 1968 when Roberto De Vicenzo won in Houston.
Ceceres broke his arm before the start of the 2002 season and has not played on the PGA TOUR since 2009 due to an injured left wrist. He has won several tournaments in his home country and elsewhere in South America, and in 2002 became the third golfer to receive Argentina's highest sports award, the Olimpia de Oro ("Golden Olympia").
Turns 50 on Aug. 16, 2013
Dunlap was born in Pennsylvania and received an athletic scholarship to the University of Florida where he played on the golf team from 1982 to 1985. The Gators won the SEC championship in 1985 and Dunlap was recognized as a first-team All-SEC selection, an All-American and the Golfweek Male Amateur of the Year that same year. Dunlap graduated from Florida with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 1986, the same year his younger sister, Page Dunlap, won the NCAA Women’s Golf Championship while playing for the Gators. Dunlap has had two Web.com Tour victories. His first top-10 in a major championship came in the 1999 British Open when he was T-10. He followed that with a T-9 at the 2000 PGA Championship, eventually finishing 44th on the PGA TOUR money list for his career-best year.
Turns 50 on Oct. 24, 2013
Benepe was born and raised in Wyoming. He attended Northwestern University, where in 1986, he was a first-team All-American and the Big Ten Champion before turning pro late in the year. The following year, Benepe played his first full-year as a professional golfer in Asia, on the Australian Tour and on the Canadian Tour. That year, he won the British Columbia Open in Canada and was the winner of the Canadian Tour's Order of Merit and Rookie of the Year awards.
In 1988, he won the Victorian Open in Australia before making the biggest splash of his career when he won the 1988 Western Open, the first PGA TOUR event he ever played in. The tournament was held at Butler National GC in Illinois that year, and he only got in through a last-minute sponsor exemption. Peter Jacobsen double-bogeyed the 72nd hole, which gave Benepe the victory. It turned out to be his only win in an official PGA TOUR event. He won the PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season. He is still the only person to win a PGA TOUR event on his first attempt.
After posting his best finish in a major championship, a T14 in the 1990 U.S. Open, Benepe left the PGA TOUR at the end of the 1991 season with back problems and technical problems with his game. He returned to Wyoming and began working in real estate sales and promotions. After a long hiatus, he began playing competitive golf again in the early 2000s, mostly on the Web.com Tour. He currently works in the corporate world reselling jet fuel.
Below is a look at seven players who earned status through q-school.
Jeff Brehaut (finished second at q-school)
Turns 50 on June 13, 2013
Brehaut was born in California and attended the University of the Pacific where he graduated in 1986 with a degree in Communications before turning professional. He played on mini-tours before he earned status on the Web.com Tour in 1993, where he picked up two wins, one in 1995 and the next in 1997.
He graduated from PGA TOUR Qualifying School at the end of 1998 and played his first full season on TOUR in 1999 but was unable to keep his card. He regained his PGA TOUR card for 2001-07, with his best season coming in 2005 where he made 16 of 33 cuts, had 5 top-10s and earned over $1 million. Although Brehaut won the 2004 Callaway Golf Invitational at Pebble Beach in his home state, his best official finish on the PGA TOUR was third at the 2005 THE INTERNATIONAL. His best result at a major championship was a T17 at the 2007 U.S. Open. Brehaut, who earned his spot through a regional qualifying event, was the co-leader at the 2009 U.S. Open after Thursday's first round which was rained out due to torrential rain. He was 1-under through 11 holes at Bethpage Black and eventually finished tied for 58th.
He has made over 500 combined starts on both Tours and earned more than $4.3 million during his career.
John Riegger (fifth at q-school)
Turns 50 on June 13, 2013
Riegger was born in Illinois. He graduated from Lamar University in 1985 and turned professional later that year. Between 1987 and 2011, he has bounced back and forth between the PGA TOUR and the Web.com Tour, playing more than 385 total events and winning over $3 million in career earnings. He has two wins on the Web.com Tour, in 2007 and 2010, while his best PGA TOUR finish was a T5 at the 2006 John Deere Classic.
Chie-Hsieng Lin (sixth at q-school)
Turned 50 on April 7, 2011
Lin is one of Chinese Taipei's old hands. He achieved numerous success in the early 1990s, winning his home Open and PGA Championship on several occasions. He secured his first victory in Asia in 1995, winning the Formosa Open on home soil. A steady player, Lin has played in Japan as well before focusing in Asia, safely keeping his card from 2000 to 2002. He played in 11 events in the 2006 season where he enjoyed a solo fifth place finish at the inaugural Pulai Springs Malaysian Masters.
In 2002, he challenged for the Taiwan Open title before finishing T2 behind Malaysia's Danny Chia. In 2003, he lost his playing privileges and returned to Qualifying School where he finished fourth to regain his card. He finished 70th on the Order of Merit in 2004, thanks to a T9 in the Kolon Korean Open and fifth in the Taiwan Open where he was the joint leader after the second and third rounds. In 2005, Lin enjoyed four top-20s. He advanced to the 2012 Champions Tour Qualifying School finals by the barest of margins, finishing on the number to gain the 14th and final spot at his Regional Qualifying site in California. He likes traveling and karaoke.
Esteban Toledo (seventh at q-school)
Turned 50 on Sept. 10, 2012
Toledo was born in Mexico and turned pro in 1986. He has played over 600 combined events on the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour, earning more than $4.5 million. He has 11 top-10 finishes to his credit on the PGA TOUR but his sole victory on the Web.com Tour came at the 2005 Lake Erie Charity Classic at Peek ‘n Peak Resort. He also won the 2000 Mexican Open and represented Mexico in the World Cup in 1992, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2006. Toledo, a former boxer, was the subject of the book "Tin Cup Dreams", which was written by Michael D'Antonio.
Anders Forsbrand (eighth at q-school)
Turned 50 on April 1, 2011
Forsbrand was born in Sweden and turned professional in 1981. He first played on the European Tour in 1982, and has been a member since. He won seven individual titles on the European Tour and finished in the top ten of the Order of Merit three times, with a best of fourth place in 1992. In 1991, he led Sweden to victory in both the World Cup and the Dunhill Cup. In 1993, he became the first Swedish golfer to play in all four major championships in the same year. In 2004, European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer named Forsbrand as his vice-captain for the matches at Oakland Hills Country Club in which the European Team won.
Forsbrand began playing on the European Senior Tour after turning 50 in 2011. In August 2012, he won the Scottish Senior Open, becoming the first Swede to win on the European Seniors Tour. He has made five starts on the Champions Tour since turning 50 with a T40 in the 2012 Senior British Open his best result. Forsbrand now resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., near PGA TOUR Headquarters.
Neal Lancaster (ninth at q-school)
Turned 50 on Sept. 13, 2012
Lancaster was born, raised and makes his home in North Carolina. He turned pro in 1985 as a completely self-taught player. He did not take his first golf lesson until 1992. His first golf lesson was given by L.B. Floyd, father of World Golf Hall of Fame member Raymond Floyd. Lancaster has 28 top-10 finishes in PGA TOUR events including a win at the 1994 GTE Byron Nelson Classic.
His best finish in a major championship is T4 at the 1995 U.S. Open. Lancaster shares the 9-hole record at the U.S. Open with Vijay Singh with a 29 at both the 1995 and 1996 U.S. Opens. These scores came on the back nine of the fourth and second rounds, respectively. In 2002, Lancaster came to the final hole of the Bell Canadian Open with a two-shot lead. He made double bogey to drop into a playoff with John Rollins and Justin Leonard. Rollins won on the first extra hole.
Lancaster has played more than 565 events on the PGA TOUR and won over $6 million even though he has been plagued by shoulder surgeries. He played his first Champions Tour event in his home state at the 2012 SAS Championship on a sponsor invitation and finished T25.
T.C. Wang (11th at q-school)
Turned 50 on Aug. 9, 2012
Wang is one of Chinese Taipei’s most successful golfers with four victories on the Asian Tour. The veteran’s last victory was at the 2006 Brunei Open where he defeated Australia’s David Gleeson in a playoff. In 2011, his best result was a T6 on home soil at the Taiwan Masters. In 2008, Wang produced one top-10 and five top-20s to finish 61st on the Order of Merit. He started the year strongly by challenging for the Indonesia Open title before settling for a T7 finish. Wang registered two top-10s in 2007 and three other top-10s in the previous season.
Wang ended a six-year title drought by winning the 2005 Macau Open by a stroke over Australian duo Marcus Both and Jarrod Lyle. He also posted three top 10s and capped his year by qualifying for the World Cup with Chang Tse-peng. He had a successful year in 2004 with three top 10s and played in the World Cup in Spain with Lu Wei-chih. Wang’s career reached a high point in 1999 when he was paired with Tiger Woods in the opening two rounds of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Taipei. Earlier that year, he won the Myanmar Open, the first event of the season, and posted three other top-five finishes that season. He is a self-taught golfer and had spent countless hours during his early days as a professional hitting 800 golf balls daily. Wang enjoys fishing during his time away from the golf course.