MCI Classic Preview

Vijay Singh is looking to add to his jacket tally with a Tartan one on offer here...

Martin
Thu, 13 Apr 2000

MCI Classic Preview

Glen Day’s playoff victory over Jeff Sluman and Payne Stewart at last year’s MCI Classic brought him a goal everyone on the PGA Tour has – winning. In fact, Day kicked off a parade of nine first-time winners in 1999.

A victory this week at Harbour Town Golf Links would move the Arkansas resident into additional exclusive company.

Only two players have defended MCI Classic titles successfully. Stewart was the first, winning consecutively in 1989 and 1990. The next was Davis Love III.

After winning his first PGA TOUR title on Hilton Head in 1987, Davis earned TOUR wins Nos. 3 and 5 there in 1991 and 1992. Love added to his MCI Classic total in 1998, defeating none other than Day by seven strokes.

Love is the only four-time winner on Hilton Head. The six other multiple winners are Hale Irwin (1971, 1973, 1994), Johnny Miller (1972, 1974), Hubert Green (1976, 1978), Tom Watson (1979, 1982), Fuzzy Zoeller (1983, 1986) and Stewart.

Masters Champion Vijay Singh will make his first appearance after donning a green jacket. Hoping to add another historical title to his collection, this time a Tartan Jacket, the prize for the winner here.

MCI Notes

This week’s playing is the MCI Classic’s 32nd edition and 32nd year it has been held at Harbour Tour GL. In 1972, the first two rounds were held at the Ocean Course and Harbour Town GL before finishing with the final two rounds at Harbour Town only.

A LOOK BACK AT 1999: Glen Day, appearing in his first playoff, earned his first PGA Tour title by sinking a 35-foot putt on the first extra hole at Harbour Town. The winning birdie defeated Payne Stewart and Jeff Sluman. Day, who began the last round 10 groups ahead of the final pairing, closed with a 66, then waited to see if his 10-under-par 274 total would hold up. He earned $450,000 with his win and climbed to 19th place on the TOUR money list at that juncture.

EXTRA TIME: There have been six playoffs in the 31-year history of the MCI Classic. Three of those occurred in the 1990s: Payne Stewart defeated Steve Jones and Larry Mize in 1990, Bob Tway defeated David Frost and Nolan Henke in 1995, and Glen Day defeated Payne Stewart and Jeff Sluman in 1999. Doug Tewell (1980), Tom Watson (1982) and Bernhard Langer (1985) are the other three MCI Classic playoff winners.

LOVE AT MCI CLASSIC: Davis Love III has played in each MCI Classic since he joined the PGA TOUR in 1986. Love’s four victories are the most in the event’s history. He also has six top-10 finishes in 14 starts. Love has played 47 rounds in the MCI Classic. Of those, 33 are at par-or-better, 30 are under par and 24 are in the 60s. Last year, after shooting 68-75-74, Love withdrew because of a bad back. His back specialist had told him to take the week off, but Davis wanted to play as defending champion.

FIRST-TIME WINNERS: When he won last year’s tournament in a playoff over Payne Stewart and Jeff Sluman, Glen Day was the last player to make the MCI Classic his first career PGA TOUR title. Other players who earned their first career titles at Hilton Head are Davis Love III (1987), Nick Faldo (1984), Doug Tewell (1980), Graham Marsh (1977) and Hale Irwin (1971).

ACES: There have been 12 holes-in-one in MCI Classic history. And while no player has made two in the tournament itself, Blaine McCallister has made two at Harbour Town. McCallister made one in the 1996 MCI Classic and also had one at the 1989 Nabisco Championships (now THE TOUR Championship), which was held at Harbour Town.

TOURNAMENT RECORD: Loren Roberts holds the 72-hole scoring record at the MCI Classic. In 1996, Roberts shot 66-69- 63-67–265, 23-under-par, to de-feat Mark O’Meara by three strokes.

PURSE INCREASES AGAIN: The MCI Classic increased its purse by $500,000 this year to a total of $3,000,000; the winner will receive $540,000. This is the eighth consecutive year the purse has increased. When it began in 1969, winner Arnold Palmer earned $20,000. The first time the total purse was $1 million was in 1990.

COURSE RECORD: David Frost holds the course record at Harbour Town Golf Links. Frost shot an 11-under-par 61 in the second round of the 1994 MCI Heritage Classic.

TOUGHEST HOLES: The par-4 eighth hole at Harbour Town GL was the toughest hole during the 1999 MCI Classic. It recorded a stroke average of 4.266. The easiest hole was the 505- yard par-5 second hole, which carried a stroke average of 4.537 (-.463). Thirteen eagles and 178 birdies were recorded on the second hole.

WIRE-TO-WIRE: In its first 31 years, there have been only three wire-to-wire winners of the MCI Classic. In 1974, Johnny Miller held the lead by himself after each round of the PGA TOUR event, shooting 67-67-72- 70–276 and defeating Gibby Gilbert by nine strokes. Tom Watson went wire-to-wire in 1979, shooting 65-65-69-71–270 to defeat Ed Sneed by five strokes. In 1997, Nick Price accomplished the feat by shooting 65-69-69-66–269, defeating Brad Faxon by six strokes.

COMEBACK SUNDAY: Hubert Green and Glen Day share the record for the largest come-from-behind victories at the MCI Classic. In 1978, Green began the final round five strokes behind leader Larry Nelson. Green’s closing 67 earned him the Sea Pines Heritage Classic title. Last year, Day closed with a 66 to force a playoff with Jeff Sluman and Payne Stewart. Day won the playoff with a birdie-3 on the first extra hole.