The number of local professional golf tournaments that bring fans out to watch the best in the region and the world will grow by two in 2015.
A schedule that starts in a couple of weeks with the 106th Massachusetts Open and ends with the Deutsche Bank Championship over Labor Day weekend now includes a Champions Tour event and a tournament on the Symetra Tour.
The Constellation Senior Players Championship will be held at Belmont Country Club June 11-14, and the W.B. Mason Championship — for up-and-coming players striving to reach the LPGA Tour — is scheduled for Aug. 14-16 at Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton.
The Senior Players Championship will feature an 81-player field, with a number of big-name players already committing to the event. Colin Montgomerie, Tom Kite, Kenny Perry, Mark O’Meara, Rocco Mediate, Jeff Maggert, Brad Faxon, and defending champion Bernhard Langer are among those who have pledged to participate in the Champions Tour major, one of five on its schedule. Tickets are available, and volunteer opportunities still exist. For information, visit cspgolf.com.
The first round of the Senior Players Championship is on a Thursday; the Massachusetts Open is scheduled to end the day before that, at Black Rock Country Club in Hingham. The 54-hole tournament featuring professionals and amateurs is June 8-10. Ian Thimble will look to defend the title — and the $15,000 prize for low professional.
A week after the US Open (which is a week after the Senior Players) is the first of two PGA Tour events played in New England. The Travelers Championship is June 25-28 at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.
Players who have already committed to play include Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Jason Day, Ernie Els, Brandt Snedeker, Hunter Mahan, Padraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley, and Kevin Streelman, who won last year by closing his final round with seven straight birdies, something never before done by a PGA Tour winner.
The newest event on the local professional schedule is the W.B. Mason Championship at Thorny Lea. The developmental Symetra Tour has had a tournament the past few years in New Hampshire, but moves to Massachusetts this year with a new title sponsor.
Once again, the Deutsche Bank Championship will feature the top 100 players on the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup points standings, and will be the second of four playoff events. The tournament at TPC Boston will conclude, as always, on Labor Day. A number of volunteer positions are still available, and ticket options can also be found at dbchampionship.com.
What next for Khang?
It’s been a busy time for Megan Khang, who made it through Monday qualifying and played in last week’s LPGA Tour event. Not only that, the 17-year-old from Rockland made the cut at the Kingsmill Championship, and tied for 58th. She actually was inside the top 20 during a third-round 68, before closing the 72-hole event with a final-nine 40. Still, it was another LPGA Tour experience for Khang, who finished up her senior year at Rockland High School this week and will graduate May 29. “Everything was great,” said Khang. “You can’t really be disappointed because you get to play with the best women in the world, and not many girls get to do that. I definitely learned a lot. I learned I need to work on my short game, and my putting, too. Just the way they compose themselves on the golf course is impressive.” What’s next for Khang? She unsuccessfully attempted to qualify for this week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic, and has a local qualifier on June 2 at Ferncroft Country Club for this year’s US Women’s Open. She also has a decision to make. Khang is deciding whether to play college golf — she lists Wake Forest, Duke, and Vanderbilt among the schools she’s considering — or turn professional. “I’m just not sure yet,” she said. Khang said she spent time last week speaking with another 17-year-old who had the same decision to make. It looks like Lydia Ko made the right one. She’s ranked No. 1 in the world. Ko tied for 16th at the Kingsmill, but gave Khang valuable advice. “I asked her, ‘How do you look so calm when you’re playing, even after a bad shot?’ ” Khang said. “She was nice enough to let me in on her little secret.”
At the New England PGA’s annual spring meeting, Allan Belden of Worcester Country Club was named the section’s 2015 golf professional of the year. Other awards were given to Jim Salinetti (Winchester Country Club; youth player development), Graham Cunningham (Framingham Country Club; teacher of the year), Joanne Flynn (Windham Country Club; Bill Strausbaugh Award), Rob Jarvis (Bangor Municipal Golf Course; Horton Smith Award), Mark Aldrich (Worcester Country Club; assistant professional of the year), John Tuffin (Pinehills; merchandiser of the year/public facility), Mark Gammons (Black Rock Country Club; merchandiser of the year/private facility), R.J. Austin (Sugarbush Golf Club; merchandiser of the year/resort facility), Brian Bickford (Val Halla Golf Center; player development), Bob Giusti (Country Club of Halifax; Patriot Award), and PGA Life Member Ray Lajoie, who is the first recipient of the Deacon Palmer Award. In addition, Donnie Lyons and Jim Sheering will be inducted into the NEPGA Hall of Fame. Lyons is the general manager of Reedy Meadow Golf Course and serves as head professional at Settlers Crossing Golf Course. Sheerin is the director of golf at The Abenaqui Club . . . Bob Beach, the longtime head professional at Braintree Municipal Golf Course, received the 2014 Conrad Rehling Award at the spring meeting. The national award, created in 2005, recognized Beach’s contributions to Special Olympics golf.
Spots remain in a pair of qualifiers that will send amateur and professional golfers to a one-day event in Rhode Island that is offering to pay out as much as $20 million. Does that get your attention? It should. The Benrus Open at the Preserve will be held June 18 at a new par-3 course in Wyoming, R.I., and features a number of big-money prizes. Professionals will play for a guaranteed purse of $100,000, with $25,000 going to the low pro in the 18-hole stroke-play tournament. Any amateur making a hole-in-one during the tournament will win $1 million. (Aces during the qualifying rounds pay $10,000, but the first person to make one — Brian Butler — declined the money, since he’s a senior-to-be on the Boston College men’s golf team.) The final two of five qualifiers are Thursday and Sunday at the Preserve at Boulder Hills, which opened in 2014. Registration is required — 48 hours in advance of the qualifier you’d like to play — and costs $250 for both professionals and amateurs. For more information, visit thepreserveopen.com or call Troy Pare at (401) 539-4653.Michael Whitmer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeWhitmer.