Quincy Awaits Tour - The Enterprise
By Bob DiCesare, Enterprise Correspondent
If recent history is an indicator, then Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy should be the site of another fantastic finish this weekend for the third annual BJ's Charity Championship, the $500,000 LPGA Legends Tour event.
Last year, Christa Johnson and Nancy Scranton eagled the final hole for a one-stroke victory over Sherri Turner and Cindy Figg-Currier. In 2005, the teams of Patty Sheehan-Pat Bradley and Jan Stephenson-Cindy Rarick were declared co-champions after darkness halted their exciting five-hole playoff.
“I can't wait to see what the ladies have in store for us this year,” said Paul Bass, the tournament chairman, during a recent media day press conference.
For 2007, the tournament's stature continues to rise with another star-studded field, plus a best-ball format that is different from an individual golf event.
In addition to the previous champions, other headliners in the field for the BJ's Charity Championship are JoAnne Carner-Dale Eggeling, Amy Alcott-Alicia Dibos, Colleen Walker-Barb Mucha, Sandra Haynie-Val Skinner, Sally Little-Patti Rizzo, Jane Blalock-Mieko Nomura.
Led by Carner's 43 LPGA Tour titles, players who have committed to this tournament have won a combined 354 LPGA and Legends Tour events, including 35 major championships. Forty-two players have posted at least one LPGA or Legends Tour event and 13 have won a major championship.
“By understanding the value of having the great players of the LPGA Tour play here, the Tour is really starting to take off now,” said Stan Abrams, president of Senior Tour Players Inc, who represents Granite Links GC. “The caliber of golf is absolutely unbelievable.”
Contributing to the quality of play and low scoring is the format of best-ball of two in the first round and two-person scramble for the final round.
“We've all played a little bit of best-ball, and you can get some low scores with best-ball,” said Johnson, “but I had never scrambled with a pro before. That was really unique. It's not just how much fun it is with my own team, with Nancy, but everyone is making birdies. It just takes the golf to a whole different level because you can't ever let up.”
Currently, the Legends Tour has put together a six-event schedule this year, including a stop in Japan for the third straight year and has made even more global progress with a stop in Sydney, Australia on Nov. 2-4.
Blalock, a New Hampshire native now living in Cambridge who won 27 LPGA tournaments in her career, has been working tirelessly as president of the Legends Tour to add more events and gain notoriety for the Tour.
“I think this Tour has a really good future,” said Blalock. “BJ's has certainly put us on the map here. There are people who are really behind it and they are making some good decisions. I think there will be more events. There is more opportunity in golf right now, especially for women.”
Last year, the tournament produced $1.3 million in charitable contributions for a total of more than $2.3 million in two years for the BJ's Charitable Foundation, which donates to community programs that benefit children and families.
Among the pre-tournament activities on Thursday will be a junior clinic from 10-11:30 a.m. and a women's clinic from 1-2:30 p.m.
For Saturday and Sunday's competitive rounds, single-day tickets are available for $10 while a three-day pass is $25. Tickets can be purchased by calling the BJ's Charity Championship tournament office at 617-721-3931, or by visiting www.thelegendstour.com and clicking on the BJ's Charity Championship logo.
All active and retired military personnel will be admitted free with proper ID, and children under age 17 will be admitted free.