By Rusty Hampton, Special to PGATOUR.COM
MADISON, Miss. -- Billy Andrade is looking forward to turning 50 next January.
That’s when the four-time PGA TOUR winner will be eligible for the Champions Tour, when he hopes to return to competitive golf on a regular basis. And if the way he played this week in the Sanderson Farms Championship is any indication, he’ll be ready to go when he joins the 50-and-over crowd.
Andrade caught fire early in Sunday’s round -- he played the first five holes in 5 under -- and fired a 7-under 65 to grab the clubhouse lead at 17 under. He would finish 3 shots behind in a tie for fifth place.
“I’ve gotta get ready (for the Champions Tour), and playing a tournament like this is important for me in getting ready," Andrade said. "I’ve got a lot of friends out there, Jay Haas in particular, who have told me, ‘Don’t just show up and think you’re doing to do well.’
“You have to work at it. That’s what you have to do out here, too. You have to work at it, and that’s what I’m going to do so I’m ready when I get to the Champions Tour.”
Andrade, who has played a limited Web.com Tour schedule this summer, got into this week's field on a sponsor exemption. He’s played this tournament many times in the past and was a little surprised by the reception he received during the week at Annandale Golf Club.
“I can’t thank everybody who works for this tournament enough,” said Andrade. “They’ve been so nice to me and this is a big event for Mississippi. When I got here, everybody remembered me and I had a good vibe, like, ‘You know what, this is what I used to do.’
“I came here a lot and supported this event, so to come back and play well is really cool. I haven’t done this in a long time.”
The top-10 finish gets Andrade in next week’s RBC Canadian Open at Glenn Abbey Golf Club outside Toronto. Andrade won there in 1998.
“I’m really excited about going to Toronto and see if I can continue this,” Andrade said. “I’ve always been a player when I get on a roll I can really flush it out, so I’m looking forward to going up there and see if I can continue this good play.”