PGA Tour Champions Tees Up This Week with Els, Furyk, Langer

While the PGA Tour has been back in action since mid-June, the PGA Tour Champions circuit is just now getting underway in a COVID world.

They may be the bravest athletes of all, considering they are all in the 50-plus age group, making them, statistically, slightly more likely to catch the virus than PGA Tour age players.

All other athletes who are restarting competition, whether on the PGA Tour, in baseball or the NBA, are substantially younger. So perhaps the elder statesmen of golf can show everybody else how to make this work, just like millions of golfers are doing at golf courses all over the country.

Ernie Els, Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer are among those courageous pros in the field for the first Champions tournament post COVID, the Ally Challenge. PGA Tour Champions players will be under the same COVID policies, according to a spokesperson from the PGA Tour.

However, these players in particular have played in PGA Tour events already, so it’s not like it’s a debut for of them. The Ally is being held at a course familiar to nearly every golfer on the Champions circuit and to many golf fans:  Warwick Hills CC.

Warwick Hills CC was the site of three of Tiger Woods’ 82 PGA Tour victories when it was the Buick Open.  Woods won there in 2002, 2006 and 2009. In fact, many superb golfers won at the storied track over the years, like Billy Casper in 1958, Julius Boros in 1963 and 1967, Tom Weiskopf in 1968, Hale Irwin in 1981, Ben Crenshaw in 1986, Fred Couples in 1994, Vijay Singh in 1997, 2004 and 2005 and, of course, Woods.

Like the PGA Tour events being held over the summer, the Ally Challenge will be gallery-free.  But they have an on-line charity auction if you are interested in giving an assist to the tournament charities while trying to score some great autographed and collector items.  You can bid for memorabilia signed by Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Kite, Jerry Kelly and NASCAR’s Jimmy Johnson. Some of the bid items are really creative.

There’s an Ally Pro-Am foursome package for 2021 with Mark O’Meara. You can bid on tickets for next year’s Ally Challenge, tickets for the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions and Detroit Pistons, 2021 NASCAR Hot Passes at the Michigan International Speeedway Race, a signed 2015 U.S. Open flag from Spieth and signed Masters flags from Nicklaus and O’Meara. There are hats autographed by Johnson.

And there’s more, including a Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford autographed football and what they call  “race-used metal” from the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet.  The latter appears to be a chunk of a NASCAR driven race vehicle.  BIDS CLOSE AT 6 pm AUGUST 2.

Ally renewed the auto industry connection with Warwick Hills when it became the sponsor for this event on the PGA Tour Champions in 2016. Ally, which is a lender, began as a financing company in the 1920s to help General Motors car dealers finance inventory. It has grown to become a lender for autos as well as home mortgages through Ally Bank and Ally Financial.

Next: Best Golfer from each state: Ohio Golf and Jack Nicklaus

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These days, Flint, which formerly had a large Buick plant, is still an important part of GM vehicle production. Instead of automobiles, the plant produces heavy-duty Chevrolet and GMC trucks. More than 5200 GM employees work there, which is larger than some small towns. According to GM, the payroll for the plant was in excess of $400 million in 2019, which means it is not an insignificant contributor to the local as well as state’s economy.