WATCH ABOVE: One of the highlights of the Shaw Charity Classic is the pro-am held at the Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club. It’s chance for local amateurs to tee it up with a legend of the game and raise money for charity. David Boushy reports.
CALGARY— The Champions Tour hits Calgary for the second annual Shaw Charity Classic this week, with the first round starting Friday. The tournament, which sees many of golf’s legends over the age of 50 challenge Canyon Meadows Golf and Country Club, was a resounding success last year with thousands packing the fairways to watch the likes of golf major winners Fred Couples, Mark O’Meara and Tom Lehman battle it out under the blazing sun. Eventually Rocco Mediate, known for battling Tiger Woods at the 2008 U.S. Open, emerged as the winner.
With that in mind, here’s five things to consider when heading down to the Shaw Charity Classic this week. The tournament pro-ams run Wednesday and Thursday, with the three-round main event running through Sunday.
There are three players—Paul Goydos, Chip Beck and Kevin Sutherland—in this weeks field who have recorded the lowest score ever shot at a PGA Tour sanctioned tournament. Beck shot his 59 during the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational in 1991, while Goydos shot his record score at the John Deere Classic four years ago. Sutherland is the most recent member of the group, narrowly missing a 58 when he bogeyed the final hole in the second round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open two weeks ago.
The winner of last year’s inaugural Shaw Charity Classic, Mediate is animated, talkative and a lot of fun to watch. He kibitzed with fans throughout last year’s tournament, even going as far as to make a joke when he hit a wayward drive on the 15th hole during the final round. He opened the tournament by shooting a course record 63 and closed with a 64. In between he won over the fans of Calgary and matched the lowest three round total ever shot on the Champions Tour.
“All I had to do was keep breathing and I’d win,” Mediate said after his victory. “And I kept breathing.”
The Champions Tour is a tough ticket to get punched, especially if you didn’t play regularly on the PGA Tour and win. But two Canadians—former Canadian Amateur winner Rod Spittle, and longtime standout Jim Rutledge—are regulars on tour and are in the field in Calgary, and Calgarian Darryl James, an instructor with the National Golf Academy in Calgary, qualified for the event and becomes part of the 81-man field competing for a purse of $2.25 million.
Of course, one of the biggest names at the tournament this week is Calgary’s Stephen Ames, a four-time winner on the PGA Tour, who is playing in only his second Champions Tour event since turning 50.
While there was plenty of interest on the fairways at the Shaw tournament last year, the real action was behind the scenes with the event raising a record $2.27-million, the largest charitable contribution in Champions Tour history. The charitable giving has already started this year, with Shaw Communications making a $1.275 million donation to Hull Services and YouthLink Calgary, funded by the Calgary Police Foundation.
Last year saw Great Big Sea wow fans in downtown Calgary with a show run by Shaw Communications to celebrate tournament week. The free concert on Thursday is a hot ticket once again as all of the complimentary passes are already gone. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be thousands at Shaw Millennium Park to watch Randy Bachman and Fred Turner headline the show that will be opened by acclaimed Canadian rock band The Sheepdogs.
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