Tuesday, February 16, 2016
The Chubb Classic-2016
Bernhard Langer graciously accepted the award as the champion of this year's Chubb Classic at the Twin Eagles Golf Club in Naples. He is no stranger to the podium, as this was his third victory in the past six years.
Bernhard Langer, waiting to putt, with the long putter
The PGA players in the tournament are those who have reached the magic age of 50. Some players elect to enter the Champions Tour once they turn 50, but not all. Some members of the tour decide, when they turn 50, to play full time as opposed to previous stints as club professionals, and the like. One of those players is Rod Spittle.
To refresh your memory, Rod Spittle hails from Chippewa, Ontario, not far from Niagara Falls, and the American border. He attended Ohio State University, and settled there, working in the insurance industry. Nearing his fiftieth birthday, he huddled with his family, and shared his vision for the future. He wanted to play on the Champions Tour.
One does not exactly pack one's clubs in the trunk of the car and step up to the first tee on the Tour. It is something that must be earned, through schools and other preliminary contests. He initially struggled, but has done very well the past few years. Although he did not win any tournaments last season, he managed to pocket more than half a million dollars.
Spittle is a very classy guy. Some pros have no time for any distractions during the tournament. Spittle deals with them, as they arise. On one occasion, a fan hollered, just after Spittle putted, “Hey Chippewa!” Rod turned, smiled, and tipped his cap at the lout. During his final round, he asked his caddy for an extra ball. He flipped it to a little kid who was following him with his parents. He tossed a signed ball and a glove at a fan after a round last year.
A gentle giant at six feet five inches, and at about 250 pounds, he seems to get along with everyone. His wife Ann accompanies him at every hole on the course, as does her sister and brother-in-law. Another Buckeye supporter also walks the course with Spittle's threesome: Harry Meek. Although he would not disclose his age to me, Harry has seen seventy-five candles on his cake. I must admit I have struggled to keep up with him.
The golf they play is spectacular. Hole after hole, they drive almost 250 yards, seldom more than a few yards apart. Chip to the green, one or two putts, and on to the next hole. Occasionally, one of those chips bounces a couple of times, and rolls in the cup. A very long putt may drop. Those two strokes saved might be the difference of many thousands of dollars, at closing time.
Spittle finished the tournament with three sub-par rounds: 71, 69, and 70. he was six under par, trailing Langer by nine strokes. Fred Couples charged at Langer in the final round, to no avail. He finished three strokes back. Couples is very popular on the tour, and is followed by a large gallery. In comparison, some pros are followed by half a dozen members of their family.
Fred Couples, on the 18th tee
Spittle played with Grant Waite in the final round. Waite had two rounds of 70 on the first two days of the tourney. I chatted with his wife during the round. The Australian, who had won on the PGA Tour, had two back surgeries during the off season. On the final round, he was not sharp. One of his drives went out of bounds, the only one I have witnessed on all the rounds I have followed on the tour. He ended the day with an 80, and earned $ 2 720.
Spittle pocketed $ 22 528 for the week's work. Langer got $ 240 000 for the win, and moved into first place on the money list. At the end of the year, the person on the top of the list get a Gillion Dollars, or something close to that.
The Knudsens, in front, and the Tausendfreunds, Belleville
I ran into several friends at the tournament. It was played in almost perfect weather, although the breezes gave players fits on a few occasions. It is a perfect way to enjoy the weather in South West Florida.
Joanne and Brian Fisher, from Tweed.
And if you are about to turn fifty, sharpen your game. You never know......
February 16, 2016