ENDICOTT (WBNG) -- The 2017 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open held its media day at En-Joie Golf Club on Monday. The first round of the PGA Tour Champions tournament begins on Friday, August 18.
"We're excited," said tournament director John Karedes. "We know we are going to have one of the best fields on tour this year and the players want to come back to the community. They know the golf course is in great and the community embraces them. They love coming and seeing people who, maybe they use to stay at their houses years ago, old B.C. Open days, and they've got relationships and this is the one thing that this community gives and provides the fans that really no other events does is we've got a history with these players and they remember when they were cutting their teeth and maybe won their first event here in Endicott. So to bring them back and have them excited to come back just says a lot about our community as a whole."
The three-day tournament has not had a repeat winner in its ten year history, but Paul Goydos looks to change that this year. The 2016 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open was Goydos' first of two victories on the PGA Tour Champions last season. He won the Charles Schwab Cup Championship in November to double the amount of victories he had heading into 2016.
In 2015, Goydos finished second at the DICK'S Sporting Goods Open, so clearly the Long Beach native likes playing at En-Joie Golf Club. However, that's not the only reason Goydos enjoys his time in Endicott every year.
"This event of all the events we play on the champions tour, you feel like it's a community event," said Goydos. "Most of the fans probably come from a 15-20 mile radius. There's going to be a guy in the pro-am in a Cowboys hat getting me to sign stuff on the third tee. He is there every single year. I think he was there during the B.C. Open, too."
Goydos also mentioned loving the pizza around the area.
"Paul loves En-Joie," said Karedes. "He has played here twice as a PGA Tour Champions player. He has come in second and first so who knows, this could be the year."
Over the past two tournaments, the defending champion has posted a combined score of 26 under par. On Monday, Goydos returned to Endicott and says his recent success at En-Joie Golf Club has a lot to do with his swings out of the tee box.
"This golf course, and if you look at anybody who has ever won here, it demands that you drive your golf ball well," said Goydos. "If you don't drive your golf ball well, you're not going to do well in this tournament. This is the hardest driving golf course we will play all year. You have to drive your ball in the fairway and for the last two years, I've driven the eyes out of it. If you don't do that, you aren't going to do well, period. This golf course tends to reward good play and penalize bad play. It's pretty cut and dry in that area. It's very difficult. You have to drive the ball in the fairway and if you don't drive the fairway, you can't hit the greens and if you can't hit the greens, you obviously aren't going to make birdie so fortunately last couple years I have been playing well coming in or played well here and the golf course will again reward that and that's why I like coming here."
The 2017 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open week begins on Monday, August 14 and runs through Sunday, August 20.
32 of the top 36 golfers on the PGA Tour Champions have already committed to the 2017 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open.
"Listen to have both Miguel and Jose Maria," said Karedes. "I think the fans are in for something very special. Jose Maria, a two-time Masters champion and Miguel who has won around the world and has played on four Ryder Cup teams. Go out and watch these guys. They are great. And everyone has heard about Miguel's warm-up and it will be interesting to see him out on the practice tee but we are excited to have these guys join us."
John Daly will return to Endicott for the second year in row and obviously still a big fan-favorite around here after winning the B.C. Open in 1992.
Some of the golfers joining Daly include 2014 DICK'S Sporting Goods Open champion and current money leader for the Charles Schwab Cup Bernard Langer. He returns to the tournament after a year hiatus. Plus, two-time Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal will make his first trip to Endicott.
"This golf course tends to reward good play and penalize bad play," said Goydos. "It's pretty cut and dry in that area. It's very difficult. You have to drive the ball in the fairway and if you don't drive the fairway, you can't hit the greens and if you can't hit the greens, you obviously aren't going to make birdie so fortunately last couple years I have been playing well coming in or played well here and the golf course will again reward that and that's why I like coming here."
Goydos believes the course at En-Joie Golf Club has a lot to do with the best players on the tour wanting to play.
"The top players want to go to a place where their play will be rewarded," said Goydos. "That's just one of the things they look forward to. At least that's my understanding of it and this golf course will do that. They may not play well but they appreciate the fact that they are coming to a place that if they do, they are going to get rewarded with a decent chance of winning the golf tournament. You're not going to luck your way around this event. You have to do everything well and also people like coming here. It's a great community event and we don't get much of that anymore. And the community really supports the event. This is the thing to do in this part of the country probably all summer. You've going to have the concert that week and there's a lot to do and the community embraces it and they embrace the players and when they do that, it makes you more comfortable. It makes you want to go there. It's a comfortable place to go."
Tommy Armour III
Miguel Angel Jimenez
Miguel Angel Martin**
Jose Maria Olazabal
Tom Pernice, Jr.