Heavy rains wipe out Champions’ Challenge
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland – The guys who conquered the British Open were no match for a miserable day at the Old Course.
The Champions’ Challenge, a four-hole exhibition involving 26 past winners of golf’s oldest major, was canceled Wednesday because of driving rain and howling winds.
Tiger Woods, defending Open champion Stewart Cink and five-time winners Peter Thomson and Tom Watson were among those scheduled to play the first, second, 17th and 18th holes. But miserable conditions, however, prompted officials to call off the event at mid-afternoon.
“It’s a shame,” said three-time winner Nick Faldo, who also was scheduled to play. “It’s just brutal out there. It wouldn’t have been entertaining for anybody.”
The first champions-only event was held at St. Andrews in 2000 to commemorate the millennium Open. It proved popular, and officials send out invitations for another to mark the tournament’s 150th anniversary. Most of the former winners accepted, with Jack Nicklaus, Nick Price and Johnny Miller the most notable exceptions.
Thomson, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Lee Trevino, Robert de Vicenzo, Bob Charles and Tom Weiskopf were to serve as captains of the three- and four-player teams. The team with the best individual score was to receive about $76,000 (50,000 pounds) to donate to the charity of its choice.
Even though the event was called off, the prize was donated to the Seve Ballesteros Foundation. The Spaniard, who won the Open three times, had hoped to play in the Champions Challenge, but has been battling brain cancer since October 2008.
Since Ballesteros couldn’t travel on the advice of doctors, the other champions decided to award the money to his foundation, which funds brain cancer research and helps underprivileged youngsters develop their golf careers.