Jerry Kelly got lost while trying to get to the Boeing Classic last year, but that didn't stop him from winning the whole shebang.
SNOQUALMIE — This year, Jerry Kelly drove right to the course.
Last year, a hotel concierge in Bellevue gave the PGA Tour of Champions rookie directions to Snoqualmie Falls Golf Course, not The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge where the Boeing Classic has been played since 2005.
Kelly figured out that something was wrong and eventually found the right course for his practice round. Days later, the 50-year-old Tour of Champions rookie was the tournament champion and had done two things that hadn’t been done in the 13 previous years of the Boeing Classic — 1) Win with a record score of 19-under for three rounds; and 2) Win after being the first-round leader.
Where: The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge
Defending champ: Jerry Kelly
Friday: Boeing jet flyover, 11:20 a.m.; first round, 11:30.
Saturday: Second round, 10 a.m.
Sunday: Final round, 8:30 a.m.Information: boeingclassic.com
Kelly said this year’s first trip to the course was a cinch because, “I had Harry Sese with me.” Sese is the Bellevue chiropractor known as “the golfing doc” who works with a variety of pro and amateur players.
Kelly, who has taken the past three weeks off to heal from injuries, is among the main players to beat when the three-day, 54-hole Boeing Classic begins Friday. He leads the Charles Schwab Cup standings with $1,592,509 on the strength of a victory at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii, three second-place finishes and six other top-10 performances in 15 starts.
Kelly was an all-city high-school hockey center in Madison, Wisc., and said, “I love to hit and be hit.” He said his deficiency was “I skated with my head down too much.” He had hockey scholarship offers but realized he would be better at golf and played at the University of Hartford and moved on to a pro golf career.
Kelly hasn’t defended a championship since 2009, when he was on the PGA Tour.
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“I usually only win if I enjoy playing the course and I enjoy the area,” he said. “I get the same feelings when I come out there. I think this course is really fun. I love the area. I love Bellevue (where he stays), hitting some great restaurants, and it gives you a great feeling that you can take to the golf course.”
Fred Couples back in hometown
Asked the inevitable question Thursday about whether he feels extra pressure playing in a tournament in his hometown, Fred Couples replied: “I think when I played up here in the (1998) PGA Championship when I was much younger and Vijay (Singh) won, I felt a lot more pressure. It was the perfect chance for me. … But now, I don’t feel any more pressure playing here than anywhere else.”
Couples barely made the cut at Sahalee then bounced back with good weekend rounds to finish tied for 13th.
Couples tees off at 12:30 p.m. Friday on the first tee with Darren Clarke and Chris DiMarco, who are making their Champions Tour debuts. They are followed at 12:40 by another featured threesome of defending champion Kelly, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Scott McCarron.
- Players will tee off on No. 1 and No. 10 Friday and Saturday. The field will be reshuffled by score after the first round. All players will go off No. 1 on Sunday.
- On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., there will be a kids zone near the clubhouse with entertainment and activities, some provided by the Pacific Science Center, for preschool and grade-school children.
- The field includes 14 winners of PGA Tour majors — the Masters, U.S. Open, The (British) Open and PGA championships.
- The oldest winner of the Boeing Classic was Bernhard Langer, who was 59 when he won the 2016 Boeing Classic. The tour record for oldest winner belongs to Mike Fetchick who turned 63 on the day he won the 1985 Hilton Head Senior Invitational.
- Miguel Angel Jimenez was the only player to post top-10 finishes in all five senior majors this year and he won two of those five.
- The Boeing Classic still holds the record among the three PGA tours (Web.com, PGA Tour and Champions Tour) for largest playoff — the seven-man playoff in 2007 won by Denis Watson.
- When he won the 2018 U.S. Senior Open, David Toms became the 15th player to win at least one event on all three Tours. Kelly was the 13th to do so when he won the Boeing Classic a year ago. Among the golfers who have done it is Pullman High School grad Kirk Triplett, who is playing in his fifth Boeing Classic.
- The hardest hole at The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in last year’s tournament was the par-4 third hole (439 yards) with a 4.18 scoring average. The easiest was the par-5 first hole (554 yards) with a 4.61 average.