Champions Tour to celebrate 1,000th champion at 2013 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open


Champions Tour to celebrate 1,000th champion at 2013 Dick’s Sporting Goods Open
Tour’s first official winner Don January to attend trophy ceremony

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (August 13, 2013)  -  In 1980, at the Atlantic City Country Club in Atlantic City, N.J., a new era of golf was about to begin with the playing of the Atlantic City Senior International, the first-ever Senior PGA TOUR (now Champions Tour) event.  Thirty-three years later, at this week’s Dicks Sporting Goods Open, the Champions Tour will celebrate the unique milestone of crowning the 1,000th champion. Don January, the Tour's first champion, will be on hand to crown the 1,000th winner.

The brainchild of then Commissioner Deane Beman, the Champions Tour was established to provide financial opportunities for senior players, entertain fans, deliver value to sponsors and give back to communities, after the senior players had expressed interest in establishing such a Tour in 1979.  In that inaugural year, the schedule consisted of four events played in Atlantic City, N.J., Winged Foot GC (East) in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Suntree GC in Melbourne, Fla. and Turnberry Isle CC in North Miami Beach, Fla. The purse at the Atlantic City Senior International was $125,000 and the total prize money for the four-event season was $475,000. January was the champion of the inaugural tournament claiming the winner’s check of $20,000.

After a successful first year, the Champions Tour grew to 22 events and more than $5 million in prize money within the next five years. By 1990, 20 states played host to 38 tournaments with almost $20 million on offer. By 2001, the total prize money for the season was an all-time high of more than $58 million. Since 1980, the Champions Tour has hosted tournaments in 38 states and played in eight different countries.

“I know when we started all of this we just kind of felt like we still wanted to compete and play but there really wasn’t a place for us,” said January, referring to the establishment of the Champions Tour in 1980. “The idea came from playing in The Legends. We thought we had a product to sell but we didn’t know how the market would react. Not any of us ever dreamed what it is today!”

In the history of the Tour, 189 different players have accounted for 999 total wins, with Hale Irwin holding the all-time Champions Tour record with 45 victories. Irwin was the 500thofficial champion when he won the 1997 Burnet Senior Classic at Bunker Hills GC in Coon Rapids, Minn. Thirty-two Champions Tour members are in the World Golf Hall of Fame, including Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie, the most recent inductees in May this year. The season-long Charles Schwab Cup competition, now in its 13th year, has $2.1 million available to the top-five finishers. The Champions Tour currently includes 12 active World Golf Hall of Famers, and its players represent 617 wins on the PGA TOUR with 45 of those wins representing major championship victories.

This week’s field at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open includes players who have combined for 405 PGA TOUR career victories. The field at the inaugural Champions Tour event in 1980, which included Sam Snead, the all-time record holder with 82 PGA TOUR victories, combined for 322 PGA TOUR wins,

“As we celebrate the milestone of crowning our 1000th winner, it’s a great time to reflect on the rich history and success of the Champions Tour over the last 34 years,” said Mike Stevens, president of the Champions Tour.  “With a current group of stars that include 12 Hall of Famers and numerous major championship winners, as well as the players on the PGA TOUR who will become eligible over the next few years, the future of the Champions Tour is as bright as it’s ever been.”  

Please visit www.pgatour.comfor more information.

Media Contact:
Mark Williams
Director of Communications
Champions Tour