The 2020-21 PGA Tour Champions season continues this weekend with the Pure Insurance Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Since 2014, the tournament has been played at both Pebble Beach and the neighboring Poppy Hills Golf Course, but due to COVID-19, it will be limited to a single venue this time around.
Kirk Triplett won this event last year, defeating Billy Andrade in a playoff after both finished the final round 9-under par. Having also won in 2012 and 2013, Triplett will look to add a fourth Pure Insurance title to his name. He has eight PGA Tour Champions wins and 62 top-10 finishes in total.
Pebble Beach holds a great deal of sentimental value for the 58-year old from Moses Lake, Washington, who became acquainted with the course nearly four decades ago.
“The first time I played it, we started at the bottom of Carmel Avenue over there at about nine o’clock at night, and jumped up and played six or seven holes in the dark ahead of the sprinkler guy,” Triplett recalled with a laugh. “A college teammate and I did that, probably 1981, ’82. I just fell in love with it down here.”
Ever since, Triplett has made it a point to compete in as many Pebble Beach golf tournaments as he can, from the U.S. Open to the AT&T Pro-Am. Yet he is disappointed that, due to COVID-19, this year’s Pure Insurance Championship will run without Impacting the First Tee, a unique pro-am event that sees each participating Champions Tour pro team up with a 14- to 18-year old junior and two amateurs.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great relationships with the kids that I’ve played with through the years,” said Triplett about First Tee, which has taken place since 2004. “I mean, to a person, the 81 kids that come through here, they get it. They’re hard workers, they come from all different backgrounds. There’s something about the game of golf that just brings out character.”
Despite the absence of the First Tee juniors, there will still be plenty of names to watch, including Andrade. The 56-year old from Rhode Island failed to break into the winner’s circle last year, but his second-place finish to Triplett was one of three such performances he managed in 2019. Andrade owns three PGA Tour Champions wins and 44 top-10 finishes.
Triplett and Andrade’s previous meeting at Pebble Beach was certainly memorable. Triplett overcame a four-shot deficit with three birdies at the 14th, 15th and 18th holes to shoot 67. Andrade bogeyed 14 and 15, but forced a playoff with a birdie at 18. Triplett won the playoff with a 10-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole.
Nine members of the World Golf Hall of Fame will be in action as well: Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Tom Kite, Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara and Vijay Singh. They will be joined by former Pure Insurance winners Jeff Sluman, Ken Tanigawa, Bernhard Langer, Paul Broadhurst and Esteban Toledo. The victor will take home $330,000 from a purse of $2.2 million.
After the pandemic-related cancellation of 13 tournaments, the PGA Tour Champions has combined the 2020 and 2021 seasons into a singular campaign. This weekend’s field has been reduced to 80 professionals and 80 amateurs. Golf Channel’s live coverage of the event will run 4-7 p.m. ET on Friday and 3-6 p.m. ET on Saturday and Sunday.
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