The Kemper Open will not be the only gold tournament in town this week. Nearly 40 touring professionals, including many of the big names, will warm up for the Kemper Monday in the second annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes Pro-Am at the Country Club of Fairfax.
"We're probably the only $10,000 pro-am with five tour winners in it," FCA publicity director Curtis Prins said. "And that's five tournament winners this year and last year's second-leading money winner. And we've got the PGA Tour commissioner (Deane Beman) playing, too."
This year's tour winners entered in the FCA are Curtis Strange (Houston Open), Jeff Mitchell (Phoenix Open), Doug Tewell (Heritage Classic), Craig Stadler (Bob Hope Desert Classic and Greater Greensboro Open) and Mark Pfeil (Tallahassee Open). The field also includes last year's second leading money-winner, Larry Nelson ($282,022), defending champ Dave Eger, and well-known pros such as Miller Barber, Bill Kratzert, J. C. Snead and Steve Melnyk.
The tournament organizers, who donated $30,000 to the FCA from last year's inaugural event, see their tournament as an opportunity to watch the pros for less than half the price of a day at the Kemper. Admission for the one-day, 18-hole scramble tournament will be $5, the same as the cost of viewing Tuesday's Kemper practice round at Congressional. Tickets for remaining days of the Kemper will be $12.
"We're not in any way, shape or form competing with the Kemper," Prins said. "We're offering $10,000 and they're offering $400,000. Our pros are coming because they believe in the organization. If it were to put money in their pockets, they wouldn't be playing here."
The tournament also will offer the pro a chance to have some fun. Last year, Andy Bean shot 40 on the front nine, including four-putting one green, and came in without turning in a card. But he admits to having had a good time.
"It's not one of those things where y ou want to kill yourself to play a good round," said Bean, who teed off at 8:30 a.m., 2 1/2 hours after his plane touched down. "You want to play well, but you want to be able to carry on with your partners some, too."
"Anytime you can do something to benefit kids or something like that, I think a majority of your pros will help out. And I definitely think what they do at Fairfax is worthwhile."
The tournament will be run in a different format than most pro-ams, with each pro playing with four amateurs in the scramble competition. The pros will play a straight round for their prize money. But in the pro-am competition, each fivesome will have the opportunity to play each shot from the point of the team's previous best shot, whether it be a pro or amateur.
The entry fee is $500, compared to $1,500 for Wednesday's Kemper pro-am.