When the Champions Challenge is played Monday and Tuesday at Thanksgiving Point, local golf fans will have a chance to see some of the biggest names in golf.
Jack Nicklaus, probably the greatest golfer of all time will be on hand, along with Billy Casper, one of the "Big Four" from the 1960s, Johnny Miller, who once won eight tournaments in a single year, U.S. Open and British Open champion Lee Trevino, Masters champion Craig Stadler, and former PGA champion Mark Brooks.Perhaps the golfer to watch, however, is the only female in the 16-player field, Juli Inkster. The 36-year-old is arguably the best women's player in the world right now. Two weeks ago, she won the U.S. Women's Open and this weekend is on the verge of winning another women's major, the LPGA. If she wins, she'll become one of a handful of women to win their version of the Grand Slam.
Inkster was to team with Nancy Lopez, who tournament officials were pushing. However, last week, Lopez had knee surgery, forcing her to withdraw from the Challenge. To get a good replacement on the spur of the moment, tourney officials came up with longtime PGA Tour regular Mike Reid, who lives just down the road in Provo.
The Champions Challenge, which in its second year, is open to the public Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, players will compete in a pro-am beginning at 8 a.m. On Tuesday, play begins at 10 a.m. after a clinic at 9.
The two person teams include the father and son duos of Jack and Mike Nicklaus, Johnny and John Miller, Billy and Bobby Casper, Lee and Tony Trevino, Jim and Mike Furyk, Craig and Kevin Stadler, along with Brooks and Billy Mayfair and Inkster and Reid.
Nicklaus' status is questionable after he withdrew Saturday from the Senior Players Championship because his hip was bothering him. He had hip replacement surgery earlier in the year. Reportedly, he will try to at least play in the Tuesday portion of the tournament.
Tickets for the Champions Challenge are available at all Smith's Tix locations. Advance prices are $25 for a two-day ticket, while tickets at the gate will be $30. For ticket information call 1-800-888-TIXX.
NYHUS ON FIRE: If Champions Challenge officials were looking for another woman to fill in for Lopez, they could have picked up one of the hottest amateurs in the country in Sue Nyhus. The BYU assistant golf coach has shocked everyone by advancing to today's finals of the U.S. Public Links tournament this week in New Mexico.
Just a week earlier, Nyhus, who was known as Sue Billek when she starred for BYU in the mid-1980s, beat Utah's best women golfers when she won the City Parks Open at Mountain Dell.
Nyhus was a professional golfer for a few years before regaining her amateur status a few years ago. After teaching at Hunter High School for several years, she moved to BYU this year, where in addition to helping coach the BYU women's golf team, she also teaches a sports psychology class. She has three children.
STRAY SHOTS: The least busiest week of the year, tournament-wise, is coming up with no tournaments scheduled for Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday. However, those days around the 4th of July are some of the biggest for golf courses all over the state . . . The biggest amateur event of the year, the Men's State Amateur, will be played next week (July 7-11) at Hill AFB . . . Nick Summers of Paradise won the Maxfli Utah Section PGA Championship with a 139 total at Valley View and Davis Park Golf Courses by one shot over Stephen Newren and Jake Ellison. Natalie Newren shot 145 to defeat Annie Thurman by four strokes. Summers and Newren will compete in the national tournament later this summer in Florida . . . The teams of Julie McMullin-Kerry Sundahl and Jamie Stevenson-Jessica Gardner tied for first in the UWGA Best Ball tournament last week at Rose Park and Wingpointe Golf Courses . . . After 14 years in Wyoming, former State Am champ Jon Mauss is now working as the p ro at the Jordan River Golf Course in Salt Lake Farmington's Daniel Summerhays and Salt Lake's Natalie Newren won the Salt Lake Junior Amateur titles in the oldest age divisions. Other winners included Sterling Clark, Alsion Schofield, Reed Nielsen, Mercede Kroon, Tony Finau and Brook Stewart . . . Scott Hailes and Gregg Oliphant tied for first in the North Salt Lake Amateur.