The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, the tournament that launched the Champions Tour, has grown over the years, becoming a "legend" itself. As we look forward to the 2011 competition, let us take you back to the highlights, thrilling finishes, and excitement of the last 33 years.
Mark O'Meara and Nick Price captured the 2010 Legends Division title with a par-4 on the second playoff hole to earn the victory over John Cook and Joey Sindelar. The win gave O’Meara his first victory in a Champions Tour event in 58 starts and ended a streak of 238 events without a win in a PGA TOUR event (181 on PGA TOUR; 57 on Champions Tour) since his victory at the 1998 British Open. The victory was Price’s second on the Champions Tour.
Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman outlasted Jeff Sluman and Craig Stadler on the second playoff hole to earn the victory. It was the second of four wins in 2009 for Langer and Lehman became the 13th player in history to win in his Champions Tour debut.
The tournament returned to its team play roots in 2008 and the birdies were flying. The team of Tom Watson and Andy North shot a blistering 31-under par to best the star studded field and claim the title.
Jay Haas repeated as champion as he outlasted Tom Kite in a play-off. It was Haas's second of four titles in 2007.
Jay Haas won his third Champions Tour in 2006. He had an eagle and three birdies on the back nine to shoot a 5-under 67.
Des Smythe wins his second Champions Tour title of 2005 by posting a 1-under 71 for a two-stroke victory.
Hale Irwin captures his first title of 2004 at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf with 1-under 71.
Bruce Lietzke wins the 2003 title posting a 1-under 71 during the final round. This was the first Legends played in Savannah, GA.
Doug Tewell won by one stroke over Bobby Wadkins. Tewell shot a 2-under 70 for a 11-under 205 total and took home $306,000.
For a second year in a row, Jim Colbert and Andy North teamed up to win the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. Despite a new course, The King and The Bear and blustery conditions, they posted a 7-under-par 65 for a 20-under-124 total in the best-ball tournament. They again held off David Graham and Bruce Fleisher from winning by finishing three strokes in front. They both walked off with $170,000 each.
After finishing second twice in the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, Jim Colbert teamed with Andy North to win the 2000 Event at the Slammer and the Squire at the World Golf Village. After some nervous moments, North made a par on 17, and Colbert sank a 4-foot for par on 18 that sealed the win, holding off Bruce Fleisher and David Graham.
The 1999 event was the first Legends played at the World Golf Village on The Slammer and Squire course. The year's winners were Gil Morgan and Hubert Green, who won $158,000 each.
1998's Legends of Golf Tournament was full of great golf play and some surprises. Finally, a 25 foot birdie putt, in a playoff makes Charles Coody and Dale Douglass, the first golfers ever to capture two divisions.
South African John Bland and Australian Graham Marsh posted a 6-under par 30 on the back nine to record a three-stroke victory over Hubert Green and Gil Morgan on the Palmer Course at PGA West. The international duo split the $200,000 first prize.
Wind was the big story on Friday and Saturday as the star studded Legends field battled the TPC® Stadium Golf Course at PGA WEST. Scores reflected the tough conditions with the team of Jimmy Powell and Orville Moody leading the field Friday with a 7 under par 65. They followed with a 66 to win the Legendary division and led George Archer and Simon Hobday by one stroke. Sunday brought ideal conditions, and with great weather came great scoring. The team of Bob Murphy and Jim Colbert set the early pace firing a 10 under par 62 to get them to 14 under. But it would not be enough as Lee Trevino and Mike Hill caught fire on the back nine shooting a 63 and winning their forth Legends title by two shots over the teams of Jim Powell and Orville Moody, Chi Chi Rodriguez and Harold Henning and Jack Nicholaus and Gary Player. Art Wall and partner Doug Ford won the Demaret Division with a two day total of 10 under par.
In 1995, the Legends moved to La Quinta, California, to play the famed PGA WEST TPC® Stadium Golf Course. The tournament was billed as a challenge between golf's legends and the legendary TPC® Stadium Golf Course. However, once the tournament began, the Seniors tore up the course with birdies and eagles. Mike Hill, who had 12 birdies in two rounds despite a bad back, helped lead the Trevino-Hill team to a win of 21 under, and their third Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf victory.
In 1994, it came down to the par 3, 17th hole on the final day of the tournament before Dale Douglass and Charles Coody nailed down their second Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf win. On 17, both Bob Murphy and Jim Colbert bogeyed to finish in a tie for second place with Chi Chi Rodriquez and Jim Dent, who shot 3 consecutive 63's. Both second place teams finished at 189, one shot behind the winners. The team of Arnold Palmer and Tom Wargo got off to a slow start shooting 67 in the first round, but came on strong shooting the best round of the day - 62 on Sunday for a sixth place finish.
For the first time, the Legends tournament changed its format to individual play and a three way tie resulted between Don January, Harold Henning and "rookie" Tom Weiskopf. On the first extra hole, Weiskopf was eliminated when he bogeyed the hole. On the second extra hole, a par three, Henning's tee shot landed in a trap and January missed the green on the left. Don's second shot left him with a long putt which he missed to bogey the hole. Henning played a magnificent shot out of the trap leaving himself with a short putt for a par. He sunk the putt and walked off with a first place prize of $250,000, the largest purse ever in Senior Golf to that day.
Lee Trevino and Mike Hill shot an amazing 251, 37-under par as they won their second consecutive Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf event. Their four days of play included a back-nine 28 for a third round score of 60. The team of Jim Colbert and Tommy Aaron came in second, three shots behind the leaders.
The ABC Television Network took over the contract from NBC-TV to telecast the event in 1991. Mike Hill and a new Legend, Lee Trevino, threatened to win their first tournament together -- another runaway victory at Barton Creek -- but on Sunday, Al Geiberger and Harold Henning broke another Legends record by shooting a sensational 58. However, Trevino and Hill held on to eke out a two stroke win, 36 under-par 252, at the 14th annual Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
In 1990 the Legends moved across Austin to the Barton Creek Conference Center. Everything was spectacular, including the golf. Partners Charles Coody and Dale Douglass ran away from the field shooting a record 39 under-par 249, including a sensational 59 on the first day of play.
In 1989 a new team consisting of Al Geiberger and Harold Henning threatened to run away with the event as they shot consecutive 61's on the first two days of play. Bob Charles and Bruce Devlin made a run at them on Saturday when they fired a 61 to trail by two. But on Sunday the winning team of Geiberger and Henning prevailed as they shot a 67 to hold off the red-hot Douglass and Coody who fired a 60 and took the runner-up spot.
The golfing thrills were numerous. First there was the exciting and memorable play of Arnold Palmer and Miller Barber as they led the Legends after three rounds of play. But by the time this legendary team began to play on Sunday, it appeared that the momentum had swung over to the teams of Crampton/ Moody, Charles/Devlin, Henning/Thomson and Aaron/Graham. The most exciting shot of the day came when Tommy Aaron hit his iron shot from under the limb of a fairway tree on 16, straight into the hole for a TWO that propelled them into a one stroke lead. The gallery went wild and the expression on Tommy's face was...well...legendary! Then on 18, Moody sank his putt and the Legends had the second tie of its 11-year history. The play-off that ensued duplicated the stirring six-hole playoff of 1979 as the two teams matched stroke for stroke over the Onion Creek course. Then on the sixth extra hole, Moody sank his birdie putt and he and Crampton were our second two-time consecutive team winners. An interesting sidelight: Deane R. Beman, the PGA Commissioner of Golf, was invited to play with his rookie partner, Al Geiberger.
1987 brought a new team of winners to the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf. It consisted of the "Ironman" of senior golf, Bruce Crampton, and the old Sarge, Orville Moody. Crampton, who earned the title of "Ironman" long before he participated in every senior event in 1986, and his partner Moody, set a tournament record score of 59 on Saturday and then shot 11 consecutive birdies on Sunday as they distanced themselves from the rest of the field and won their first Legends tournament.
In 1986, NBC's cameras and a good portion of the mammoth gallery were rushing back to the 15th hole anticipating an unprecedented four team play-off after the regulation 72 holes of play. But then on 18, Gene Littler, putting for a winning birdie 30 feet away, sunk it. The putt, a downhill, left-to-right shot, shocked the gallery and millions of TV viewers--as well as Littler and his teammate January--as they won their second consecutive title.
The big "news" in 1985 was the announcement that two Legendary members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association, Mickey Wright and Kathy Whitworth, would compete as a team in that year's field. And compete they did! Mickey almost had a hole in one on the par-3 17th, and Kathy chipped in from off the green on 18 as they were one of the leading contenders after the first two rounds of play. But then former Legends champions and now teammates, Don January and Gene Littler, moved away from the field on Saturday and Sunday to capture the win.
In 1984, the teams of Miller Barber/Julius Boros and Billy Casper/Gay Brewer moved away from the field as they traded birdies on the last day of play. After 15 holes, Billy and Gay held on to a one stroke lead. After a bogey by Miller/Julius on 17, Gay got his sixth birdie of the day, and he and partner Casper turned out the lights on their competitors to win the competition.
In 1983, Roberto De Vicenzo lost his playing partner when Bob Goalby suffered a back injury and had to withdraw from the tournament early in the week. Bob's replacement was a newcomer to the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, Rod Funseth. On Sunday, the team of Roberto and Rod held on to a tight two stroke lead over the determined duo of Jackie Burke and Paul Harney. Birdies on 17 and 18 made De Vicenzo and Funseth the winners, with Roberto becoming the second two-time Legend's winner.
In 1982 it was no contest! The ageless Sam Snead and his young 50 year old partner, Don January, shot an incredible 27 under-par 183, in a rain shortened 3-day tournament. If you can believe it, Sam and Don averaged a birdie every other hole, a record for any kind of golf played any place around the world. Sam went on to become the Legend's first two-time winner.
The Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf, as it was now called, was once again played at the Onion Creek Club in Austin, Texas, its home since its inception. This was the year that Gene Littler and his partner, Bob Rosburg, recorded a 23 under-par score of 257 as the event became a 4-day tournament for the first time. On Saturday they shot a sizzling 62 under-par for a four stroke lead that they never relinquished.
In 1980, the Legends, now established as an artistic success, became a very solid financial success with the strong support of its newly found sponsor, the Liberty Mutual Group which has sponsored all of the Legends since then. The 1980 tournament gave senior golf another lift when the "odd couple" of the game, Tommy Bolt and Art Wall, returned and fired a six-under par 64 on the final day for a Legend's record 23 under-par total score of 187 and the first place purse.
In 1979, the Legends represented senior play at its best when the final day provided fireworks and pure competitive spirit seldom seen in golf. It took birdies on the last two holes of regulation by Roberto De Vicenzo and Julius Boros to force a sudden death play-off with Tommy Bolt and Art Wall. The play-off resulted in one par and five birdies over the six holes with De Vicenzo and Bolt teasing each other in their friendly manner after each sensational birdie. After six extra holes, shown on national television, De Vicenzo and Boros walked off as the winners. The tournament was telecast by NBC nationally and the play-off ran into prime time. It has been said before, but it certainly bears repeating, that on April 30th, 1979, the Senior TOUR was born.
The Legends got off to a great start in 1978 when NBC Television carried the event. Sam Snead and his partner Gardner Dickinson stole all the headlines. The incredible Snead birdied the 16th and 17th holes to tie the Australian team of Peter Thomson and Kel Nagle. Then, on 18, Sam went for all the marbles and the $100,000 first prize money. His sensational wedge shot from the fairway stopped just short of the cup leaving Sam only a 3 or 4 foot putt for the win. After Nagle missed his birdie attempt, Sam sank his third consecutive birdie, and he and Dickinson won the first Legends of Golf tournament and $50,000 each.