The field for the inaugural Ally Challenge is starting to take shape — and so far so good for the Champions Tour's debut at Warwick Hills Golf & County Club in Grand Blanc.
Bernhard Langer, the gold standard on the Champions Tour, has committed to playing in the Sept. 14-16 tournament, as has fan favorite John Daly.
Tournament officials also confirmed what The News previously reported: Champions Tour rookie Tom Gillis, of Lake Orion, will receive a sponsor's exemption if necessary. He's off to a good start to his Champions Tour career, finishing tied for third in his debut tournament this month, the 3M Championship in Minnesota. That earned him an automatic spot in the next tournament, next week in New York.
Also set to receive sponsor exemptions: former Masters champion Larry Mize, Champions Tour rookie Robert Gamez and Kevin Johnson.
Langer, 60, a two-time Masters champion, has dominated the Champions Tour, with 37 wins, second all-time behind Hale Irwin. That includes 10 majors, three last season. He's led the tour in earnings nine times. This season hasn't been his best, as he's won just once. He missed defending his Senior PGA Championship earlier this season in Benton Harbor, to attend the high-school graduation of his son.
Daly, 52, a former PGA and British Open champion, remains a huge draw, thanks to his everyman persona. He's a smoker, even on the course, and has been known to enjoy some beers. During pro-am appearances at the Buick Open over the years, he occasionally would use a full can of beer as a tee.
Former Masters and British Open champion Mark O'Meara, 61, also has committed, as has popular former Masters champion Fred Couples.
The Ally Challenge is one of three recently unveiled professional stops in Michigan, returning to the long-time home of the PGA Tour's Buick Open. The PGA Tour also returns to Michigan in 2019, at Detroit Golf Club, and an LPGA Tour tournament is coming to Midland in 2019.
The Ally Challenge will feature a $2-million purse, and be broadcast on Golf Channel.