Champions Play in Richmond

The golf stars of my young adult life are slowly showing up on the PGA Champions Tour and there was a star-studded field playing in the Dominion Energy Charity Classic over the weekend at the Country Club of Virginia in Richmond.

Some of the rookies on the PGA Champions tour that turned 50 this year include Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Mike Weir and the legendary Phil Mickelson.

Mickelson was not widely expected to play on the Champions tour after his milestone birthday but teed it up on the tour for the second time in Richmond.

He won the first Champions Tour event he played at the Ozarks National in August and made it two in a row by capturing the Dominion Energy Classic title on Sunday.

Mickelson said he is playing in some senior events to stay sharp for the PGA Tour and said he specifically played in Richmond to begin his preparations for The Masters, which was delayed to November this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really enjoyed playing my first Champions event in the Ozarks. I thought (Richmond) would be a good place to start getting ready for the Masters,” he told the media after his pro-am round on Thursday.

He said the victory was a good start in that preparation.

“I have a lot of fun out here,” he said. “This was a good momentum starter for me.”

The appearance was Mickelson’s first individual start in the state of Virginia since playing in the 1993 Michelob Championship at Kingsmill in Williamsburg.

Mickelson is not the only Champions rookie to find success on the 50 and over tour this season.

Four time major winner Ernie Els has won twice this season, including the SAS Championship two weeks ago in Cary, North Carolina.

Jim Furyk meanwhile also won the first two events he played on the senior circuit this year (The Ally Championship and Pure Insurance) and was in the hunt in Cary before settling for a Top 10 finish.

The three rookies were not the only stars playing in Richmond. Hall of Fame members Bernard Langer, Retief Goosen, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh and Colin Montgomerie were in the field as well as major champions Mike Weir, Larry Mize, Darren Clarke, Rich Beem, John Daly, Jeff Sluman, Lee Janzen, Corey Pavin, Mark Calcavecchia and Tom Lehman.

While the Champions tour prize money is not quite PGA tour money, it is far from chump change.

Two-million dollars was up for grabs at the Dominion and Mickelson took home $300,000 with the win.

The Dominion Energy Charity Classic is typically the first of three Charles Schwab Cup playoff events but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 seasons were combined to form a singular 2020-21 season which reverted the three playoff events back to full-field, 81-player tournaments.