CARY, N.C. – If you hadn’t noticed, some of golf’s greatest and current players on the Champions Tour are in the area to contend for the 2014 SAS Championship title at Prestonwood Country Club.
The 23rd stop on the Tour’s 26-event schedule will begin on Friday and features as strong a field as its ever had.
Out of the 81 players who will be competing: 60 have won a total of 433 PGA TOUR events; 47 have won 302 titles on the Champions Tour; 27 of the top-30 finishers on the 2013 money list are entered; 20 have won major championships on the Champions Tour; and seven members of the World Golf Hall of Fame (Nick Faldo, Hale Irwin, Colin Montgomerie, Nick Price, Larry Nelson, Bernhard Langer and Tom Kite) are in the field.
The tournament will feature many members of this season’s Champions Tour rookie class, many of them notables from the PGA Tour, who will challenge the tournament’s numerous former champions who are in attendance.
A total of nine rookies are entered in this year’s SAS Championship and include Stephen Ames, Woody Austin, Lee Janzen, Kevin Sutherland, Billy Andrade, Jose Coceres, Marco Dawson, Wes Short, Jr. and Paul Goydos.
First on the list of serious contenders to win this year’s title is defending and two-time SAS champion Russ Cochran.
Cochran will defend a title for the fourth time on the Champions Tour.
His dramatic victory last year gave him multiple SAS titles and he and Bruce Lietzke (2001-2002) are the only players to hold that distinction at Prestonwood.
In his five previous appearances, Cochran has a pair of victories and has only finished out of the top five once (16th in 2012).
In 15 rounds on the course, he’s had just one score above par and a stroke average of 68.33.
His scoring average in the first round at this event is an exceptional 65.60, as he has started with a 66 four times and a 64 in 2010 when he claimed his first SAS title.
In addition to Cochran, this season’s Tour wins leader and 2012 SAS champion Bernard Langer will make his first appearance on the Tour in over a month when he plays in this year’s Championship.
Langer is shooting for his sixth title of the season and fourth win in his last eight starts, a feat that hasn’t been repeated on the Champions Tour since Larry Nelson did it in 2000.
World Golf Hall of Fame member Colin Montgomerie who also has not played a an event in more than a month, last appearing at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open in mid-August, will make his second consecutive appearance in Cary.
He returns to the SAS Championship after finishing T18 last year.
Montgomerie currently stands second on the Charles Schwab Cup points list and hopes to cut into Bernhard Langer’s sizeable lead with a victory this week.
Earlier this year, Montgomerie won both the Senior PGA Championship and U.S Senior Open.
Former SAS champion Kenny Perry, another multiple winner on the Champions Tour this year with victories at the Regions Tradition and 3M Championship in his last start on the Champions Tour, has also not played in a tournament since the PGA Championship in early August.
Perry makes his return to the site of his first career win on the Champions Tour at the 2011 SAS Championship and is shooting to equal his win total of a year ago when he tries for a third title in 2014.
He also returns to the area for a second time this season as he competed in the 2014 U.S. Open played at Pinehurst back in June.
Sir Nick Faldo, another World Golf Hall of Famer, once again has committed to making the trip to North Carolina, and similar to Montgomerie, will make his second consecutive start in the event.
Last year, Faldo, a nine-time winner on the PGA TOUR, including three wins each at the Masters and British Open, made his first appearance on American soil at this Champions Tour event, but had to withdraw after 12 holes in the opening round with an elbow injury.
Earlier this year, he finished T53 at the Mississippi Gulf Resort Classic and teamed with Eduardo Romero to finish T17 at the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf.
Having received a commitment from title sponsor SAS through 2017, this year’s edition of the SAS Championship promises to become another memorable professional golf event to take place in the Triangle.
To get the field ready to compete, the event’s two Pro-Am’s have kept the players limber and warmed up through Thursday as they prepare to tee it up on Friday beginning at 10:15 a.m
SAS Championship – Rd. 1 – Tee Times/Pairings
Pro-Am Results – Wed. A.M.
First Place Team (47, won in scorecard playoff)
Professional: Marco Dawson
Amateurs: Peter Meenan, Thomas Meenan, Gary Freeman, Kirk Lanier
Second Place Team (47)
Professional: Scott Simpson
Amateurs: Rod McWilliams, Ken Scales, Mark Byrd, Steven Paine
Third Place Team (48)
Professional: Brad Faxon
Amateurs: Nick Pilos, Corey Reason, Ron Westad, Alan Peppers
Men’s Long Drive Hole 7 – Scott Zucker
Closest to the Pin Hole 8 – Willie Williams
Ladies’ Longest Drive Hole 12 – Sandy Woodley
Pro-Am Results – Wed. P.M.
First Place Team (46)
Professional: Bill Glasson
Amateurs: Keith Erazmus, Jamie Barwick, Brian Green, Matt Parson
Second Place Team (49, second by a scorecard playoff)
Professional: Craig Stadler
Amateurs: Carl Farrell, Tom Schneider, Will Shupe, Francois Vimard
Third Place Team (49)
Professional: Andy Bean
Amateurs: Chuck Carlin, Larry Conner, John Danis, Ray Rouse
Men’s Long Drive Hole 7 – John Donnelly
Closest to the Pin Hole 8 – Ainar Aijala
Ladies’ Longest Drive Hole 12 – Jeanette Rafetto
Open Qualifier Results – Mon. Oct. 6 – Wilson CC
66 Roger Chapman
66 Marion Dantzler
67 Danny Briggs
67 Jeff Brehaut
67 Guy Boros
Pro-Am Results – Mon. A.M.
First Place Team (51)
Professional: Neal Lancaster
Amateurs: Clarke Hobson, Ian Sauer, Nidal Alawar, Chuck Thirft
Second Place Team (53, won in scorecard playoff)
Professional: Andy Bean
Amateurs: Paul Papadopulos, Jullie Campbell, Kerry Douhty, Joe Kelly
Third Place Team (53)
Professional: Chip Beck
Amateurs: Chad Barnes, Rick French, Lon Goldman, Mark Thomas
Men’s Long Drive: Dante Genua
Closest to the Pin: Mark McMillan
Ladies’ Longest Drive: Ellen Culler
Hole in One: Jim Puryear, Hole No. 11