After a one-week hiatus from tournament play, PGA TOUR Champions returns this week with the 12th annual Boeing Classic at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, a Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course 30 minutes east of Seattle. The tournament has become a staple on the annual schedule, producing winners such as World Golf Hall of Fame members Bernhard Langer (2010) and Tom Kite (2006, 2008), as well as 1989 British Open champion Mark Calcavecchia (2011) and current Tour star Billy Andrade, who notched the second of three career wins at last year’s event during a breakout 2015 campaign.
The Boeing Classic airs today on Golf Channel from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. All times EDT.
En route to last year’s victory, Andrade overcame a triple-bogey with a deft short game in Sunday’s final round to hold off Bernhard Langer by one shot for the first individual title of his Champions Tour career. Andrade also paired with Joe Durant earlier in 2015 to win the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge and on Nicklaus-designed Top of The Rock. Looking to defend his Boeing Classic title, Andrade also will try to pick up his first win of the 2016 season. He’s currently No. 6 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
Five past winners of the Boeing Classic claimed the title in their first start at the event—David Eger (2005), Denis Watson (2007), John Riegger (2013), Scott Dunlap (2014) and Andrade (2015)—and the 2016 Boeing Classic field will include several newcomers, including 11 former PGA TOUR winners. Most notable of those is two-time major champion and fan favorite John Daly, who event organizers expect will draw a gallery.
Tournament director Michelle DeLancy said she noticed excitement, especially on social media, as soon as Daly committed to playing.
“We always get good crowds, but I do think having John in the field will boost attendance, but by how much we don’t know,” DeLancy said.
Meanwhile, Daly looks to improve on his current 69th-place standing in the Charles Schwab Cup. Since posting a season-best T11 at the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open in July, Daly has failed to finish inside the top 50 in three consecutive PGA TOUR Champions starts—including a missed cut at the U.S. Senior Open.
“I’m coming in trying to find it,” said Daly, who added that he has been “putting like a blind man.”
“What I need is a great putting round, which I haven’t had forever,” Daly said after his pro-am round Thursday. “I’ve got to have something that goes well. It’s been a grind.”
Daly described the greens at Snoqualmie Ridge as “absolutely perfect.”
Although the Golden Bear does not like to designate signature holes (“I believe I was hired to design 18 signature holes,” he has said for many years), Hole No. 14 is considered by many to be a signature hole at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge and among the most exciting on the Champions Tour. It’s also a sanctuary for eagles of another kind.
At 431 yards, the 14th features a 70-foot drop from the tee over Bear Canyon, making it a drivable par 4. Since 2005, the first year the event was played at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge, the Champions Tour golfers have registered 23 eagles. Nineteen different players have accounted for an eagle 2. The Boeing Classic winner has played the hole under par seven times in 10 tournaments.
The two front-nine par 3s are the sixth and ninth holes. Both measure 207 yards. The 13th hole measures 210, one yard shorter than the 17th. The finishing hole mentioned by Langer is a 498-yard par 5. It is where Scott Dunlap made a two-putt birdie on the first playoff hole last year to defeat Mark Brooks. Dunlap hit a 3-wood second shot to within 5 feet.
Brooks birdied six of the last seven holes, including an 8-foot birdie putt on the 18th in regulation to force the extra hole.
There is another interesting sidelight to the tournament: TPC Snoqualmie Ridge produces close contests. Playoffs have been required to determine a winner five times, including last year with Joe Durant.
The seven-man playoff in 2007 remains the largest ever in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. Denis Watson won with an eagle—of course—on the second extra hole. The others in the playoff were Gil Morgan, Joe Ozaki, R.W. Eaks, Craig Stadler, Dana Quigley and David Eger.
TPC Snoqualmie Ridge adds yet another chapter to the Golden Bear’s legacy of creating some of the world’s finest tournament venues. Nicklaus began his career in golf course design in 1969 and from there, the world’s leading golf course design firm was born. Today, there are 405 Nicklaus Design golf courses located in 41 countries and 39 states. Of those, Jack Nicklaus has been involved in the design of 296 courses. No fewer than 140 Nicklaus Design courses have hosted close to 900 professional tournaments or significant national amateur championships worldwide. As many as 100 Nicklaus Design courses have appeared in various national and international Top-100 lists. Among his numerous course design honors, Nicklaus was recognized most recently as 2014 Architect of the Year by Golf Magazine. The firm currently has projects under construction or under development in 22 different countries.