The Southern Open Tribute Page
Event aka The Buick Challenge



UPDATE: January 19 2012
Due to a most unfortunate change by a previously used source, the results for 1970 to 1977 are not currently available.

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Southern Open History: 1970 to 2002

TITLE NAME  Green Island Invitational (1970)
              Southern Open (1971-1989)
              Buick Southern Open (1990-1994)
              Buick Challenge (1995-2002)

HOST COURSE  1970 to 1990: Green Island CC - Columbus, GA (Par-70/6791-yds)
               1991 to 2002: Mountain Course at Callaway Gardens
                             Pine Mountain, GA (Par-72/7057-yds)

Year -- Winner -- Winning Score -- 1st Prize -- Total Purse


1970 - Mason Rudolph - 274  - $12,000 / $60,000    Final Scores & Earnings

  Mason Rudolph shocked everyone with a closing round of 64 to win the inaugural edition of the tournament.


  April 18, 2011 || Mason Rudolph, former Vanderbilt Director of Golf, passes away at 76



1971 - Johnny Miller - 267  - $20,000 / $100,000    Final Scores & Earnings

  Johnny Miller, won his first PGA Tour event here, five shots ahead of future PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beaman.
  Miller, now a commentator for NBC Golf, won the 1973 US Open and 1976 British Open. In 2002, all British Open
  wins prior to 1995, including Miller's, were made official PGA Tour victories, giving him a total of 25 PGA Tour
  career titles.




1972 - DeWitt Weaver - 276  - $20,000 / $100,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  George Johnson, tied for the 54-hole lead, was in position to become the first black to win an invitation to the
  Masters. However, a 4th-round 76 dashed his hopes. DeWitt Weaver beat Chuck Courtney in a playoff. Two years later,
  Lee Elder won the 1974 Monsanto (Pensacola) Open and became the first African-American to be invited to Augusta.




1973 - Gary Player - 270  - $20,000 / $100,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Gary Player, winless since the 1972 PGA Championship and coming back from major surgery, beats Forrest Fezler by one.
  After the event, Player predicts Fezler may win next year.




1974 - Forrest Fezler - 271  - $20,000 / $100,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Forrest Fezler, coming off a solo second to Hale Irwin at the 1974 US Open, outlasted J.C. Snead and Bruce Crampton
  by one stroke. Fezler won with the same score that had been good enough for 2nd place in 1973.

  Defending champion Gary Player, winner of the 1974 Masters and British Open, was playing
  in the World Series of Golf.

  62-year-old Sam Snead tied for 38th and collected a modest $410 !!!




1975 - Hubert Green - 264  - $20,000 / $100,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Third round leader John Schroeder admitted that he "couldn't beat a 64", which is what Hubert Green fired on
  Sunday to win over Schroeder by 3 and set a new tournament record.



1976 - Mac McLendon - 274  - $25,000 / $125,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Mac McLendon beat his fellow Alabamian, defending champion Hubert Green by 2 shots. Green and McLendon had won
  the 1974 Walt Disney Team Play Championship.




1977 - Jerry Pate - 266  - $25,000 / $125,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  1976 US Open champion Jerry Pate left the competition far behind, winning by 7 shots - still the largest margin
  of victory in the event's history. 1971 champ Johnny Miller was among four players tied for 2nd.

  Lee Trevino garnered much attention when his Wednesday pro-am team won with a whopping score of 21-under-49 !!




1978 - Jerry Pate - 269  - $35,000 / $175,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Jerry Pate won by one stroke over Phil Hancock, becoming the event's first (and so far, only) back-to-back
  winner. Pate's 1977 win came after that year's World Series of Golf. His 1978 win came before the 1978 World
  Series. At the time, you needed two regular tour event wins to get into the World Series. Thanks to scheduling,
  Pate won the same event twice and got the World Series invitation !!!



1979 - Ed Fiori - 274  - $36,000 / $200,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Ed Fiori won the first of his four Tour titles in sudden-death over Tom Weiskopf.

  Arnold Palmer played in the Southern Open for the first time and finished tied for 25th.




1980 - Mike Sullivan - 265  - $36,000 / $200,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Arnold Palmer made a 2nd appearance and finished tied for 13th.




1981 - J.C. Snead - 271  - $36,000 / $200,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  J.C. Snead ended a five-year victory drought with a sudden-death win over 1980 winner Mike Sullivan.




1982 - Bobby Clampett - 266  - $45,000 / $250,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Bobby Clampett got his only PGA Tour victory here, winning by two over Hale Irwin, who had finished with a
  course-record 61. The win was a nice consolation for Clampett, who earlier in the year, had led the British
  Open with opening rounds of 67 and 68, only to shoot 78 and 77 and finish four back of winner Tom Watson.

  The 1982 Southern Open was a tournament that I had the personal pleasure of attending.




1983 - Ronnie Black - 271  - $45,000 / $250,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Ronnie Black edged future Ryder Cup Captain Sam Torrance in a playoff. The solo 2nd finish would be Torrance's
  best-ever in a PGA Tour event.




1984 - Hubert Green - 265  - $54,000 / $300,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Hubert Green's winning 265 was one stroke shy of his 1975 record of 264. His six shot margin of victory is the
  2nd largest in the event's history. Green went on to win the 1985 PGA Championship.

  Jack Nicklaus made his only Southern Open appearance, finishing tied for 11th.




1985 - Tim Simpson - 264  - $63,000 / $350,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Tim Simpson matched Hubert Green's 1975 record winning score.




1986 - Fred Wadsworth - 269  - $63,000 / $350,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Fred Wadsworth, who got in as a Monday Open Qualifier, won by two over John Cook, George Archer, Jim Thorpe
  and 1985 winner Tim Simpson.

  For the next 24 years Wadsworth would hold the distinction of being the "last to win a regular PGA Tour event
  as a Monday Open Qualifier". That status came to an end on August 22nd 2010, when India's Arjun Atwal won the
  Wyndham Greensboro Open as a Monday Open Qualifier.

  Wadsworth would also win the 1989 South African Open.



1987 - Ken Brown - 266  - $72,000 / $400,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Winner Ken Brown was a member of the 1987 European Ryder Cup Team. Just weeks earlier, the Europeans won the
  Cup on US soil for the very first time, beating the Jack Nicklaus-captained US squad at Nicklaus' Muirfield
  Village course.




1988 - David Frost - 270  - $72,000 / $400,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  The first PGA Tour win for South Africa's David Frost. He also won the 1988 Tucson Open (then being played
  in the fall), then won the 1989 World Series of Golf over Ben Crenshaw in sudden-death, earning a 10-year
  PGA Tour exemption thru 1999.




1989 - Ted Schultz - 266  - $72,000 / $400,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Winner Ted Schultz later won the 1991 Nissan-Los Angeles Open.




1990 - Kenny Knox - 265  - $108,000 / $600,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Kenny Knox became the last Southern Open winner at Green Island ---




1991 - David Peoples - 276  - $126,000 / $700,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  --- And David Peoples became the event's first winner at Callaway Gardens.




1992 - Gary Hallberg - 206  - $126,000 / $700,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Heavy rains resulted in Gary Hallberg becoming the event's first 54-hole winner.




1993 - John Inman - 278  - $126,000 / $700,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  John Inman, brother of 1976 Kemper Open champ Joe Inman, won a 5-man sudden-death playoff over Billy Andrade,
  Mark Brooks, Bob Estes and Brad Bryant.




1994 - Steve Elkington - 200  - $144,000 / $800,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Steve Elkington became the event's 2nd 54-hole champion.




1995 - Fred Funk - 272  - $180,000 / $1,000,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  The event became the Buick Challenge and boasted its first $1,000,000 purse.




1996 - Michael Bradley - 134  - $180,000 / $1,000,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Michael Bradley became the PGA Tour's last official 36-hole winner to date (those confounded heavy rains again)
  when he beat Davis Love III, John Maginnes, Len Mattiace and 1995 winner Fred Funk in a 5-man playoff.

  Since 1996, the PGA Tour has ruled that a tournament win will be official ONLY if at least 54 holes are contested.



1997 - Davis Love III - 267  - $216,000 / $1,200,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Davis Love III followed up his emotional 1997 PGA Championship victory with a win in his home state of Georgia.

  Steve Lowery set a Callaway course record with his final round score of 12-under-60.




1998 - Steve Elkington - 267  - $270,000 / $1,500,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  In a battle of past champions, the 1994 winner Steve Elkington outlasted 1995 winner Fred Funk in a
  sudden-death playoff.




1999 - David Toms - 271  - $324,000 / $1,800,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  David Toms, the eventual 2001 PGA Championship winner, captured his 2nd 1999 win here.




2000 - David Duval - 269  - $414,000 / $2,300,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  David Duval, winless since the 1999 BellSouth Atlanta Classic 18 months before, wins here, then goes on to win
  his first major, the 2001 British Open Championship.



2001 - Chris DiMarco - 267  - $612,000 / $3,400,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  Chris DiMarco won his 2nd PGA Tour title in sudden-death over 2000 winner David Duval.




2002 - Jonathan Byrd - 261 - $666,000 / $3,700,000  Final Scores & Earnings

  In the last Buick Challenge ever played, PGA Tour rookie Jonathan Byrd shot a career low 9-under-63 to edge
  1999 Challenge winner David Toms by one. Byrd set 72-hole tournament records for fewest strokes played as well
  as most strokes under par.

  Tim Herron became the answer to a future trivia question as he made the last stroke (a par putt) in
  Buick Challenge history.



  Additional Notes

  The Southern Open, which eventually became known as the Buick Challenge (event played first at Green Island
  CC, Columbus GA 1970-1990, then at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain GA 1991-2002), ended its 33-year run after
  the 2002 tournament.

  PGA Tour players have said that the Callaway Gardens Tour stop is among the best on the entire PGA Tour. But
  for sponsor Buick, the issues of medium attendance, a remote location and competition from pro and college
  football were just too much to bear.

  So, in mid-2001, Buick opted to end its sponsorship of the event after 2002, and the event's last staging
  would be 2002.


  In case you're wondering, Tiger Woods never played at Callaway. He was scheduled to play in 1996, but unfortunately,
  he withdrew at the last moment !!!!

  Southern Charities, a non-profit group that owned and ran the Buick Challenge, looked for some way to keep the
  tournament going, and on December 9 2002, the PGA Tour announced that a new Champions Tour event, the Columbus
  Southern Open would be held at Green Island C.C. in Columbus, Georgia, beginning 2003.

  The 2003 Columbus Southern Open was won by Morris Hatalsky. Shortly thereafter, it was announced that there
  would be no event after 2003 -- and no event has been held since then !!


  The Green Island course (as well as its clubhouse) has been worked on extensively in recent years. Larry Mize,
  who lives in Columbus, says that Green Island's greens putt the best of any course in the Columbus area.

  So--the week-long Buick Challenge Season Badge I purchased for the 2002 event became a whole lot more precious !!!

  Phil Mickelson, #2 in the world, headed a field that was scheduled to include Ernie Els, David Duval,
  Davis Love III, Paul Azinger, Fred Funk, David Toms, Jim Furyk, Loren Roberts, Mark O'Meara, Gary Nicklaus,
  Jesper Parnevik, Scott Hoch, Segio Garcia, defending champion Chris DiMarco and Larry Mize.

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