Champions Tour eyes Grand Blanc's Ally Challenge to restart season

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

The 50-and-older Champions Tour plans to restart its season in Michigan.

The tour announced Wednesday afternoon that the first tournament back will be The Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club in Grand Blanc from July 31-Aug. 2.

Jerry Kelly won the 2019 Ally Challenge at Warwick Hills.

Earlier Wednesday, the LPGA Tour announced it also would restart in Michigan, with the Great Lakes Bay Invitational at Midland Country Club from July 15-18.

Both tours point out the plans are tentative. They haven't said anything about fans being allowed. The PGA Tour is scheduled to return in June with its four tournaments, at least, being held without fans, including the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club from July 2-5.

"This unprecedented climate has forced us to work closely with our tournaments in establishing what is best for their respective markets," Miller Brady, Champions Tour president, said in a statement.

"The health and safety of everyone associated with PGA Tour Champions and the global community will continue to be the No. 1 priority as the Tour navigates the ongoing health crisis.

"We will continue to monitor the developing situation and follow recommendations by government authorities."

As of now, four of the state's five major pro-tour tournaments remain on the schedule. The LPGA rescheduled Grand Rapids' Meijer Classic from June to October. The one cancellation, so far, was the Senior PGA Championship, a major that was set to be played in Benton Harbor in late May. The Senior PGA will return to Benton Harbor in 2022.

The Champions Tour now has 13 tournaments remaining on its 2020 schedule. Lake Orion's Tom Gillis will be under the gun to earn status for next season, as will a number of Michigan pros on all respective tours trying to adjust to a condensed schedule. There's also talk the tours could be moving to a "rollover season," combining the end of 2020 with the 2021 season, and have players retain the status they had to start 2020. Any such plan would eliminate qualifying schools for 2020.

"I'm looking forward to it very, very much," Gillis said. "I just hope we can have fans because it's such a great atmosphere with them at that particular event."

The Ally Challenge debuted in 2018, bringing major golf back to Grand Blanc, long the home of the PGA Tour's now-defunct Buick Open.

The tournament was held in September in 2018 and 2019, but was moved up to a more prominent place on the schedule for Year 3, given the fans' embracing of the tournament.

The Ally Challenge last year signed an extension that keeps the tournament in Grand Blanc through 2025.

Scheduled state tournaments in 2020

Champions: May 21-24, Senior PGA Championship, Golf Club at Harbor Shores, Benton Harbor (CANCELED)

PGA: July 2-5, Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit Golf Club (originally May 28-31)

LPGA: July 15-18, Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, Midland Country Club

LPGA: Oct. 1-4, Meijer LPGA Classic, Blythefield Country Club, Belmont (originally June 11-14)

Champions: July 31-Aug. 2, Ally Challenge, Warwick Hills Golf & Country Club, Grand Blanc

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