Winners from four of this year’s five major championships are heading to Pebble Beach to join defending champion Esteban Toledo and a lineup of golf legends in the 2016 Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, an official PGA TOUR Champions event September 13-18.
Bernhard Langer, who captured the Traditions and Senior PLAYERS titles this year, Senior PGA Championship winner Rocco Mediate and U.S. Senior Open champ Gene Sauers head the lineup of popular pros in the unique event, which pairs each of the 81 Champions players with one of the 81 junior competitors, who qualified from chapters of The First Tee around the country.
“We have a lot of star power in our field of tour professionals again this year,” said Steve John, CEO of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation. “The players love coming to this tournament, partly because it’s Pebble Beach, but mostly because of the week they spend with their junior partner. The friendships formed last a lifetime.”
Several past champions of the Nature Valley First Tee Open also are set to return, including Jeff Sluman (2008, 2009, 2011), Kirk Triplett (2012, 2013)and John Cook (2014).
So will the winningest player in Pebble Beach history – Mark O’Meara, “The Prince of Pebble Beach,” with five AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am victories, as well as one Pro-Am team win. O’Meara added another notch to his Pebble Beach belt with the Pro-Junior title at last year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open.
Jesper Parnevik, Billy Andrade and John Daly are among the other star attractions. An updated list of confirmed players is at www.thefirstteeopen.com/players
Langer, the 60-year-old German who has won 28 PGA TOUR Champions events, has never won at Pebble Beach in his career. Langer heads into this week as the No. 1 player on the tour money list with more than $1.7 million and three victories. The only other three-time winner this year is Woody Austin, who also will play in the Nature Valley First Tee Open.
Hosted by Monterey Peninsula Foundation, The Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach is televised internationally on Golf Channel, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 16-18. The first two rounds are played at both Pebble Beach Golf Links and Poppy Hills Golf Course, with the final round at Pebble Beach only.
Competing at Pebble Beach is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the juniors, ages 14 to 18, from The First Tee chapters. Each junior golfer was selected by a national panel of judges that evaluated participants’ playing ability and comprehension of the life skills and core values learned through their involvement with The First Tee.
The First Tee is a nonprofit youth development organization with golf programs centered on building character through Nine Core Values™: honesty, integrity, sportsmanship, respect, confidence, responsibility, perseverance, courtesy and judgment.
Playing alongside the pro-junior teams are 162 amateurs, paired as twosome teams to round out each group. Celebrities competing this year include actor Alfonso Ribeiro and former major league pitcher Mark Mulder.
Clint Eastwood is chairman of the event and Arnold Palmer, World Golf Hall of Fame member and Trustee of The First Tee, is honorary co-chair.