The first major of the PGA Tour Champions 2017-18 season is upon us, with the 30th-annual Regions Tradition. For the third year in a row, the tournament will be hosted at Greystone Golf & Country Club.
Featuring 11 of the top-12 finishers from last year’s final leaderboard, the 78-player field is loaded with the senior circuit’s biggest names, including defending champion Bernhard Langer, fresh off a win at the Insperity Invitational.
Tournament: Regions Traditions
Title Sponsor: Regions Financial Corporation
Dates: May 17-20
Course: Greystone Golf & Country Club, Founders Course
Where: Birmingham, Alabama
Distance: 7,299 yards, par 72
Architect: Bob Cupp (1991)
Field/Format: 78 players, 72-hole stroke play, no cut
Winning Share: $360,000
Defending Champion: Bernhard Langer
Marquee Players: Langer, Steve Stricker, Jerry Kelly, John Daly, Mark O’Meara, Scott McCarron, Mark Calcavecchia, Colin Montgomerie, José María Olazábal, Jesper Parnevik, Kenny Perry, Corey Pavin, Vijay Singh.
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The ‘Tradition’ was first played 29 years ago, and since its inception, has always been contested as a major event on the Champions Tour. It became the fourth major on the then Senior PGA Tour in 1989.
The Senior PGA Championship (PGA of America) and the U.S. Senior Open (USGA) were the original two majors when the PGA Tour’s senior circuit launched in 1980. Three years later the Senior Players launched (1983), making it a trio of majors for the burgeoning tour. Six years later, the Tradition was launched in Scottsdale, Arizona.
In 2003, the Champions Tour adopted the Senior (British) Open Championship as its fifth major.
From its inception, through 2001, the tournament was held in the state of Arizona at the Desert Mountain’s Cochise course, with Don Bies capturing the inaugural trophy. Jack Nicklaus followed with back to back wins in 1990 and 1991, and the Golden Bear followed that up with two more Traditions in 1995 and 1996.
In 2002, it was moved to Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club (Prospector course) near Gold Canyon (AZ). And the following year, in 2003, the event relocated to Oregon for an eight-year run – the first four tournaments at The Reserve Vineyards and Golf Club in Aloha, and the final four at the Crosswater Club in Sunriver, south of Bend.
In 2010, it moved to its current locale, in the state of Alabama, with the first five editions contested at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club, southeast of Birmingham. It moved to the nearby Greystone Golf and Country Club in 2016, and is held on the recently renovated Founders Course.
Unlike the U.S. Senior Open, Senior PGA Championship, and the Senior Open Championship, the Tradition and Senior Players are not recognized as a major by the European Senior Tour, and is not part of that tour’s official schedule. Additionally, the Tradition is the only senior major where the winner does not earn an exemption into some kind of regular PGA Tour or European Tour event.
2011-18 Regions Tradition
2003-10 JELD-WEN Tradition
2000-02 The Countrywide Tradition
1997-99 The Tradition presented by Countrywide
1992-96 The Tradition
1989-91 The Tradition at Desert Mountain
2017 Bernhard Langer
2016 Bernhard Langer
2015 Jeff Maggert
2014 Kenny Perry
2013 David Frost
2012 Tom Lehman
2011 Tom Lehman
Bernhard Langer fired an 8-under par 64 at Greystone, and pulled away from the pack to win the Regions Tradition – his eighth major on the Champions Tour, tying Jack Nicklaus’ record.
Langer finished at 20-under 268, five shots clear of Scott McCarron (69) and Scott Parel (70), who tied for second at 15-under.
Rounding out the top-5 were Marco Dawson (66), and 54-hole leader, Fred Funk (72), who both finished tied for fourth at 14-under.
The win at the Tradition was Langer’s eighth major championship title on the PGA Tour Champions (he added numbers nine and ten at the Senior PGA and Senior British later in the year).
FINAL TOP 5
1 Bernhard Langer -20
2 Scott McCarron -15
2 Scott Parel -15
4 Marco Dawson -14
4 Fred Funk -14
STORYLINE 1: The FIRST OF FIVE MAJORS
Starting this week in Alabama, five of the next seven tournaments are major championships on PGA TOUR Champions.
- Regions Tradition | May 17-20 | Greystone Golf & Country Club (Birmingham, Alabama)
- KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship | May 24-27 | The Golf Club at Harbor Shores (Benton Harbor, Michigan)
- U.S. Senior Open Championship | June 28 – July 1 | The Broadmoor Resort (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
- Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship | July 12-15 | Exmoor Country Club (Highland Parks, Illinois)
- The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex | July 26-29 | Old Course at St. Andrews (Fife, Scotland)
STORYLINE 2: LANGER CARRIES MOJO INTO FIRST MAJOR
Bernhard Langer will be making his first start since he captured the Insperity Invitational. The win was moved Langer to a familiar spot: No. 1 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings. After a three-event rough patch in February and March (T36, T54, 58), Langer has posted four-straight top 10s (T9, T2, T2, 1), culminating with his first title of 2018.
Last year, Langer won seven times, including three major titles, and the first two legs of the playoffs, yet bizarrely lost the season-long points race to Kevin Sutherland, whose only win came in the final event.
78 Players in the Field
Armour III, Tommy
Blake, Jay Don
Jiménez, Miguel Angel
Olazábal, José María
Pernice Jr., Tom
Short, Jr., Wes
Credit: PGA Tour Champions Media Notes and Guide, Getty Images