SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Darren Clarke is the defending Sanford International Champion and will look to become the first player to ever successfully defend his title this week, but he’ll have to fend off a loaded field to do so.
Darren Clarke isn’t the only player looking to capture a 2nd Sanford International title, as all three other past champions, Steve Stricker, Rocco Mediate and Miguel Angel Jimenez are in this year’s field.
“These guys don’t have to play every week and they choose to come here every single year. That speaks to our community, it speaks to Sioux Falls and it speaks to our great golf course,” Tournament Director Josh Brewster said.
Also in the field are 6 World Golf Hall of Famers.
“I’m excited to be back. It’s always a fun week here. I may have played this tournament as much as any other tournament I played on the Champions. I haven’t played a whole lot over the last few years due to scheduling and injuries and surgeries. But I’m happy to be back, and we had a lot of fun here last year going into the Ryder Cup,” Davis Love III said.
And every player in the top 10 of the season long Charles Schwab Cup standings.
“The field we have this week is the strongest it’s been all year,” Josh Brewster.
There’s no player playing better golf than Padraig Harrington, who’s making his Sanford International debut this week.
“Padraig, who’s a newbie for us, he’s won two out of the last three weeks, and we’ll see if he can make it three out of the last four,” Brewster said.
Harrington is among 11 players competing in Sioux Falls for the first time, and part of a group that spent their PGA Tour careers competing against Tiger Woods, which is now having a trickle down effect into the quality of the Champions Tour.
“I’ve had a full-time trainer and physio all my career, so that’s why I’m fitter and stronger at 50. Back in the day it just wasn’t like that, so guys would have retired earlier or broken down earlier. Now guys can go on that the science and education about how to keep yourself healthy is much stronger. Yeah, you’re going to see fitter and stronger 50-year-olds coming out and better players coming for sure coming forward. It will be interesting to see,” Harrington said.
All of that combined has the making for another memorable weekend of golf.
“This is a special tournament. I hope people understand that,” Brewster said.
The Sanford International continues on Thursday with day 2 of the pro-am’s. Then on Friday the 5th running of the tournament will officially tee off with the first round.