At 7:00 a.m. local time in Birmingham, Ala.,, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Champions Tour member Jerry Pate hit ceremonial tee shots to get the Champions Tour's first major of the season underway. Rice, the honorary chairperson for the Regions Tradition, and Pate, a graduate of the University of Alabama, are both members at Shoal Creek, the new venue for the Tradition which began in 1989 after being established by Lyle Anderson.
In chilly but sunny conditions, Rice hit a high but accurate shot about 195 yards in the center of the fairway. Pate followed with a slightly pushed drive that got a "members" bounce back into the right half of the fairway, about 245 yards out.
"That's about the most nervous I've been for any tee shot," said Pate, who will celebrate the 30th anniversary of his 1982 PLAYERS Championship victory next week.
"After it was over, I enjoyed it a lot," said Rice, who admitted to a little nervousness. "Even though you never quite own your swing, it's fun trying to get better."