FRENCH LICK, Indiana – Defending champion Colin Montgomerie did it again. The 51-year-old Scot held onto his crown as the Senior PGA champ.
Montgomerie shot a 3-under 59 on the challenging Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort in Indiana. He won by four shots to earn $495,000 on a beautiful breezy Sunday.
Montgomerie is the first player to successfully defend the Senior PGA Championship title since Hale Irwin won three in succession in 1006-98.
Montgomerie and his Sunday playing partner and World Golf Hall of Fame colleague, Bernhard Langer, have won four of the last five major championships on the Champions Tour.
The most historic and prestigious event in senior golf, the championship presented by KitchenAid marks its first visit to Indiana with an international field competing on the par-72, 7,400-yard Pete Dye Course. The course has been called one of the best modern golf courses in the world.
“It is exciting to have the opportunity to bring the Championship to French Lick, which most recognize as the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird, but also became a site of golf history when Walter Hagen, one of our Association founders, enhanced his legendary career,” said PGA of American president Ted Bishop.
“Hosting the Senior PGA Championship is a dream come true for all of us,” said Dave Harner, director of golf at French Lick Resort.
Outside Harner’s office in a glass display case are rough sketches on a paper napkin that might look like child’s play. But the hastily scrawled design were the basis for the now famous French Lick golf course.
“That’s the only drawn plan we have,” Harner said of the napkin which renowned golf course designer Pete Dye used to sketch during a 2005 breakfast with Harner. “But if you took that napkin out there and walked around with that napkin, you would see the course golf today almost exactly as Pete Dye drew it on that napkin.”
Visually stunning, the dramatic hilltop Pete Dye Course is etched into one of the highest elevations in Indiana. “It’s about 900 feet so you get some really panoramic views,” Harner said.
CHALLENGING PETE DYE COURSE
When Indiana native Dye first saw the proposed site known as Mt. Airie back in late 2005, he said it was impossible to carve a golf course into that terrain. Too steep, too rugged, too challenging. But after Pete slept on that initial decision, he changed his mind.
“The first day he decided it couldn’t be done,” Harner recalled. “And the next day he decided he had to build it, as he said, “whether they want me to or not.’ Most architects visit a site before the project starts, then once in the middle and then on opening day. Pete is still coming here.”
Visually stunning, the dramatic hilltop course is etched into one of the highest elevations in Indiana. “It’s about 900 feet so you get some really panoramic views,” Harner said. “Pete was going for unobstructed views for miles and miles. Golfers are going to be so awed by what they see … On a clear day, you can see 30 to 40 miles.”
As director of golf at the French Lick Resort, Dave says he saved the napkin from a 2005 breakfast with Pete at The Villager restaurant because he recognized its historic importance. “I always knew that we would have a great golf course but I never envisioned that we would build what may be one of the top golf courses in the country, ” Harner said.
Nor surprisingly, Pete Dye was picked to do the project. Other candidates were Fuzzy Zoeller and architect Clyde Johnson, Rick Smith, Arnold Palmer Design, The Jack Nicklaus Corporation and Schmidt-Curley. An Indiana native, Pete Dye already had designed six of the current top 20 courses in the nation.
“Pete said he told them the first day that ‘I said it was impossible to build a golf course on that site and that I almost proved it,’” Dave says. “Pete has been here, at last count, 115 times. Most architects visit a site before the project starts, then once in the middle and then on opening day … Pete is still coming here.”
For more information: Contact French Lick Resort at (888) 936-9360, www.frenchlick.com or the Senior PGA at www.pga.com/seniorpga.com.