Story and Photos by Christian J. Stewart (ISN)
September 20, 2016, Victoria, BC (ISN) – Many of the biggest names on the Senior PGA Tour will be in Victoria this week as they get ready to challenge the Mountain Course at Bear Mountain Golf Resort Friday through Sunday in the 2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, the latest stop on the PGA Tour Champions Circuit.
Led by 2015 Charles Schwab Cup Champion Bernhard Langer and 2013 and 2014 Pacific Links Champions Mark Wiebe and Paul Goydos, the Pacific Links Championship will feature many golfers familiar to long-time PGA fans including Vijay Singh, Mark O’Meara, Jesper Parnevik, Tom Kite, Larry Mize, Ian Woosnam, Miguel Angel Jiminez, Colin Montgomerie, Craig Stadler, Mark Calcavecchia, Scott Verplank, Fred Funk and Canadian Jim Rutledge, to name just a few.
The tournament which is being held in Victoria for the very first time, features a $2.5 million purse, with 81 players competing for the winner’s share of $440,000. All three competitive rounds (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) will be televised by the Golf Channel and attendance over the course of the three days is expected to top 30,000 spectators for both the Pro-Am and Tournament events.
Fans attending the event will see some high calibre golf, as the field includes 58 PGA Tour winners with 317 total career victories, 47 PGA Tour Champions winners with 213 total career victories, 15 players with a PGA Tour Major win, 18 with a PGA Tour Champions Major win and five World Golf Hall of Fame Players including Langer, Kite, Singh, Montgomery and O’Meara.
On Tuesday, many of those golfers arrived at the course and got in some practice on the range and then headed on to the course for a practice round to see the ups and downs of the Mountain Course for themselves.
On Wednesday and Thursday, many of the pros will get to know the course even better during the Pro Am Tournament, starting on both days at Noon, with a shotgun start at all 18 holes. Key pros to watch in Wednesday’s ProAm will be Jay Haas, Rutledge, Funk, Stadler, Verplank and Calcavecchia. On Thursday fans can get their first looks at Langer, Kite, O’Meara, Jimenez, Singh, Montgomerie and Woosnam.
For the weekend’s main tournament, two-time Master’s winner Langer has to be one of the favourites to win. He has won three times on the PGA Tour Champions this year, including major championship victories at the Regions Tradition and the Constellation Senior Players Championship. He also currently leads the 2016 Charles Schwab Cup standings, with over $1.5 million in season-long earnings.
Watch for the flamboyant Spaniard Jiminez and his trademark cigar, to provide some tough competition to Langer. The 52-year old has been the best player on the PGA Tour Champions this year behind Langer, notching seven top-five finishes in eight starts, including one victory and four runner-up finishes.
Fans of Canadian golfers can keep an eye on Victoria’s own Rutledge, as well as Stephen Ames and Rod Spittle who are all in the field. The 56-year old Rutledge won six times on PGA TOUR Canada, including three victories in the British Columbia Open. Rutledge’s professional career, which began in 1978, took him through the Web.com Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour before settling on PGA TOUR Champions – where he has competed since the 2010 season. Over the past seven years, Rutledge has recorded nine top-10 finishes on PGA TOUR Champions and over $1.3 million in earnings.
Fans wishing to attend the tournament can order tickets at selectyourtickets.com. Prices packages include:
- $26.25 (general admission Pro-Am day pass)
- $42 (GA Rds. 1, 2 or 3 day pass)
- $104 (GA full week pass)
- $210 (Champions Club which offers fans a retreat from the crowds and the elements before, during and after the golf action, located on the terrace of the Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort and Spa and overlooking the 18th green. Televisions, live scoring monitors, bar service and comfortable seating with food and beverages available for purchase).
Prices do not include applicable convenience charges and/or taxes.
All ticket holders who purchase a weekly pass to the 2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship, will receive complimentary parking at the Western Speedway for the event with a shuttle ride to the event. General parking is also at Western Speedway from Wednesday to Sunday for a cost of $10 a day. Shuttles will depart every 10 minutes, the first at 7 a.m. and final at 7 p.m.
CHIP SHOTS: Fan favourite John Daly had to pull out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury suffered at last week’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach. The official charity of the event is Help Fill a Dream, an organization that provides hope, help and happiness for children with life-threatening conditions.