LA QUINTA, Calif -- "There's nothing like grinding it out over 18 holes," said Gary Williams, co-host of Morning Drive to a packed house of Am Tour competitors on the eve of their four-day event. "I wish I could be you tomorrow."
"And not because the course is 6,300 yards and I'd kick your butt," the former PGA pro needled. While the FedEx Cup culminates in Atlanta this upcoming week, the center of the amateur golf universe is La Quinta, California. Over 12 days, the Golf Channel Amateur Tour National Championships will be staged on four courses, including the Stadium Course at PGA West - a Pete Dye design once deemed too tough for even the PGA Tour's Bob Hope Classic.
The Senior National Championships feature 450 competitors in six flights. On Sunday night, a welcome dinner was held for players and their guests, followed by a Q & A with the Morning Drive team, Williams, Erik Kuselias and Holly Sonders. They fielded questions on everything from how to grow the game and the LPGA to eventually, who else, Tiger Woods.
"Tiger's created more jobs than this administration!" One attendee harped into a microphone, drawing applause and laughter. "We should all be more thankful to him!"
"When will there be a senior Big Break!?" chimed another to cheers.
The first of four rounds kicks off bright and early Sunday. Few golf resorts in the U.S. could host such an ambitious event as La Quinta and PGA West. And next week, even more players, age 50 and under, will descend upon La Quinta for another week of action. Am Tour staffers are calling this year's national championships the largest event Golf Channel has ever held.Know someone in the event or just curious who's going low? You can view updates and the leaderboard here.