The Bass Pro Legends of Golf begins Friday at Top of the Rock and Buffalo Ridge in Branson. Following are the key details.
Dates: April 18-24, 2016â€¨â€¨
Courses: Big Cedar Lodge Resort, Ridgedale, MO; Buffalo Ridge-Springs Golf Course (18 holes), Top of the Rock (9 holes/par-3)
â€¨â€¨Course Designers: Buffalo Ridge – Tom Fazio redesign (2014); Top of the Rock – Jack Nicklaus Signature (2014)â€¨â€¨
Champions Division – 54-hole, two-man team competitionâ€¨
Legends Division – 45-hole, two-man team competition for players 65 and olderâ€¨
The Buffalo Ridge Springs course will utilize a better-ball format, while on the Top of the Rock par-3 course, nine holes will use the Scotch Foursome format and nine holes will use the better-ball format.â€¨â€¨
Purse: $2,400,000/$360,000 to winning team in Champions Divisionâ€¨â€¨
Television: Golf Channelâ€¨
Friday, April 22: 11 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. CTâ€¨
Saturday, April 23: 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. CTâ€¨
Sunday, April 24: 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. CTâ€¨â€¨
2015 Recap: At the 38th annual Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf, Billy Andrade and Joe Durant each claimed their first victories on PGA TOUR Champions, fighting off Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam down the stretch to seal a three-stroke victory. Playing together as a team for the first time in the event, they capitalized on the momentum of Durant’s hole-in-one on No. 12 to hold off Lyle and Woosnam, the 36-hole leaders. Andrade and Durant found themselves 15 strokes back after Round 1, but a Round 2 51 and a Round 3 45 – the tournament’s best overall score – carried them to the win. Overall, the pair shot 19-under par, and each earned a $230,000 purse. The win marked Andrade’s first at Buffalo Ridge; the year prior, he and Tommy Armour III finished tied for 10th at 10-under. The victory at Buffalo Ridge marked Andrade’s second of the season and his second top-10 finish of 2015. For Durant, Bass Pro Legends marked his third top-10 finish in his first five events of the season; he finished fourth at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic the month prior and would go on to a fourth-place finish at the Insperity Invitational two weeks later. Durant finished the season with seven top-five finishes in 20 total events on the PGA TOUR Champions.â€¨â€¨
In the Legends Division, one year after finishing the tournament as runner-ups, Bruce Fleisher and World Golf Hall of Famer Larry Nelson walked away with the crown, finishing with a 2-under-par 139. Fleisher and Nelson birdied their ninth and final hole of the 45-hole event to seal the win. The winning pair fended off Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, who finished with a nine-under 142.
â€¨â€¨â€¨Pairing to Watch: From 2005-08, Tom Watson and Andy North owned this event, winning it all in each of those years. The tournament was not an official PGA TOUR Champions event, however, until 2008. In 2005, Watson and North won the Raphael Division by four strokes, and the next year, they posted a two-day record 23-under-par 123. They completed the three-peat in 2007, courtesy of a come-from-behind 61 on the final day of play, and in 2008 – when the tournament became an official event and their division was thus renamed the Champions Division – Watson and North won for a fourth straight time. During their span as teammates, the two of them, at one point, spanned 257 holes without a bogey; that streak ended during the eventâ€™s final round in 2010. This year, they will be paired together once again.â€¨â€¨
Will 2015 Champions Defend? Once again, Billy Andrade and Joe Durant – who each won their first PGA TOUR Champions event at last yearâ€™s Legends of Golf – will be paired together and will be looking to defend their title. The pair capitalized on Durantâ€™s hole-in-one on No. 12 to take the victory by three strokes. Last yearâ€™s runner-ups will not be paired together, as Ian Woosnam will not play in this yearâ€™s event; as a result, Sandy Lyle – Woosnamâ€™s 2015 partner – will compete alongside Jeff Maggert.â€¨â€¨
Field Includes 17 Hall of Famers: This yearâ€™s field features no shortage of current members of the World Golf Hall of Fame – a total of 17 will be playing in this yearâ€™s event. The Champions Division will feature Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Sandy Lyle, Tom Watson, Mark Oâ€™Meara and Colin Montgomerie – who are paired together – Ben Crewnshaw, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Curtis Strange. The Legends Division includes Hubert Green, Larry Nelson, Tony Jacklin, David Graham, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino.â€¨â€¨
History of the Event: This year will be the 39th Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf and the third year the event will be played in the state of Missouri. This event is also the second oldest in senior golf, with only the 76-year-old Senior PGA Championship exceeding it in longevity. The first Legends of Golf event was played at Onion Creek Country Club in Austin, TX., in 1978 – two years before the start of the PGA TOUR Champions. This event is credited with helping spawn the PGA TOUR Champions itself, and its $400,000 purse in 1978 was the largest in professional golf at that time. The first-ever winners of this event were Sam Snead and Gardner Dickinson, who beat Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle by one stroke in a better ball format. The following year, at the Legends event, Art Wall and Tommy Bolt turned some heads when they made five birdies in a playoff, only to be matched by Julius Boros and Robert De Vicenzo, who eventually prevailed. That led to the formation of the Senior PGA TOUR, now known as the PGA TOUR Champions.