Five Things to Know: Ally Challenge
September 09, 2018
By Bret Lasky, PGATOUR.COM
- September 09, 2018
- Vijay Singh has won three times at Warwick Hills.
The Ally Challenge is one of two new events upon us during this stretch of three tournaments in three weeks. It's new, but in a lot of ways, it's very familiar to both golf fans and many of the players that will compete. For example, Tom Pernice, Jr. will be making his 19th start at Warwick Hills. The PGA TOUR hosted the Buick Open at Warwick Hills from 1956 through the 2009 season. It might be more appropriate to say that the Ally Challenge is bringing professional golf back to Warwick Hills and Grand Blanc, Michigan. The field is absolutely packed to the rafters with past winners and the top players on the Charles Schwab Cup standings. Nine of the top ten on the Charles Schwab Cup standings will tee it up. The only player in the top 10 not in the field is No. 1 Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Here are five things you should certainly know heading into the week.
1. Vijay Singh has to be a favorite
Vijay singh owned Warwick Hills. He won the Buick Open back-to-back years in 2004 and 2005. He also won in 1997. He made 11 starts at the Buick Open and had three wins and eight top 20 finishes. His scoring average over 42 rounds at Warwick Hills is 68.88. Further, he won a total of $2,258,437 from his performances over the years in Grand Blanc. So, safe to say that Warwick Hills helped his bank account. Singh's schedule has slowly increased since his first start on PGA TOUR Champions in 2013. He has already played in more events this year (13) than he did all of last season (12). He has a pair of wins and five top 10 finishes so far.
2. Tiger Woods really loved Warwick Hills
Tiger Woods is the last man to hoist a trophy in a PGA TOUR sanctioned event at Warwick Hills. He won in 2009. Woods also won in Grand Blanc in 2006 and 2002. He made nine appearances in the Buick Open and his finishes are staggering: three wins, two second place finishes, a third and a fourth. His worst finish, yes worst, is a tie for 11th. He also had a milestone win. His 50th PGA TOUR win came at Warwick Hills in 2006 and the tournament had a cake made for him that was presented during the award ceremony. Woods earned almost $3.5 million in his career at Warwick Hills.
3. History galore this week in Grand Blanc
Warwick Hills has so much history. The PGA TOUR first came to Grand Blanc in 1958. Billy Casper won the first year. The initial run was 12 straight years and then the event returned in 1977 and continued for 33 consecutive years. The list of winners at Warwick Hills is a whos who in golf circles: Peter Jacobsen (1980), Lanny Wadkins (1982), Brad Faxon (1991), Larry Mize (1993), Fred Couples (1994), Justin Leonard (1996) and Jim Furyk (2003). The first televised hole-in-one also took place at Warwick Hills during the PGA TOUR event when Jerry Barber made an ace in 1965. Unrelated to history, it's worth noting that the sponsor exemption this week is Michigan native Tom Gillis, who has made two starts on PGA TOUR Champions this year and has finished tied for third both times. Gillis is a Pontiac native and Lake Orion High School graduate. He won once on the Web.com Tour.
4. Countdown to the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs
There are just four events remaining before the top 72 begin the three-event Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs at the Dominion Energy Charity Classic from October 19-21. Over the next four events, players will jockey for position to qualify for the playoffs. It's interesting to note that No. 73 on the current Charles Schwab Cup standings is Rod Spittle, who announced his retirement after the Shaw Charity Classic. No. 74 is Christopher Williams, who has made just three starts this year. The high profile names on the bubble right now are Davis Love III at No. 68, Mark O'Meara at No. 66 and Larry Mize at No. 63. John Daly is also not a shoe-in by any means as he is teetering at No. 61.
5. Events surrounding the tournament
Like all PGA TOUR Champions events, there will be a lot happening outside the ropes including a 5K race on Saturday morning, but the main draw is a Big & Rich concert on Friday night. Tournaments have spoiled the players and staff lately with some big name country acts. Blake Shelton recently performed at the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open.