Cele scramble - Barry A.jpg

University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez takes in the action at the American Family Insurance Championship prior to the start of the special celebrity scramble featuring Steve Stricker, Andy North and former Green Bay Packers Brett Favre and Mark Tauscher.

If they dusted for fingerprints on the 2019 PGA Tour Champions schedule, it wouldn't be a shock to find Barry Alvarez's on the middle of the season.

The senior circuit will visit some of the former University of Wisconsin football coach and current athletic director's favorite locales next year in and around the week during late June that it makes its fourth annual visit to University Ridge Golf Course for the American Family Insurance Championship. 

The Steve Stricker-hosted stop will return to its usual spot on the PGA Tour Champions calendar the third week of June. The 54-hole event will be played June 21 through 23 at the end of a week of tournament-related activities.

"We are extremely pleased to retain the same week we have had since 2016," Am Fam Championship tournament director Nate Pokrass said in a text message to Wisconsin.Golf. "We feel playing the week before the U.S. Senior Open, and with the major being in the Midwest, should ensure another strong field."

But check out the three stops around the one in Madison in 2019:

  • The Principal Charity Classic will be played May 31 through June 2 at Wakonda GC in Des Moines, Iowa. Of course, that's 115 miles due west from Iowa City, where Alvarez broke into the college coaching ranks as the linebackers coach at the University of Iowa.
  • The Mastercard Japan Championship joins the PGA Tour Champions schedule June 7 through 9 at Narita Golf Club near Tokyo. That is the city where Alvarez and the Badgers clinched his first Rose Bowl berth with a victory over Michigan State in the 1993 regular-season finale.
  • The U.S. Senior Open will again follow the Am Fam Championship on the 2019 schedule. It will be played June 27 through 30 at The Warren Golf Course on the same University of Notre Dame campus where Alvarez was working as the defensive coordinator under Lou Holtz before UW athletic director Pat Richter convinced him to take the Badgers' head-coaching position in 1990.

Meanwhile, Alvarez isn't the only one with a vested interest in Wednesday's announcement of the 2019 schedule.

Madison golfer Jerry Kelly, who turns 52 later this month, will defend his title at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualali, which runs from Jan. 17 through 19 with another Saturday finish. Six weeks later, Kelly will host the Cologuard Classic — sponsored by Madison-based Exact Sciences — from March 1 through 3 on the Catalina Course at Omni Tucson National in Arizona.

That is scheduled to be the first of three title defenses for Stricker. The 51-year-old Madison golfer, who plans to split time between the regular tour and senior tour, will also defend titles March 29 through 31 at the Rapiscan Systems Classic in Biloxi, Mississippi and Sept. 20 through 22 at the Sanford International — the second-year event hosted by two-time U.S. Open champion Andy North of Madison.

The PGA Tour Champions will welcome a handful of new players next year, including two-time U.S. Open champion and 2019 World Golf Hall of Fame inductee Retief Goosen of South Africa, as well as two-time major champion Angel Cabrera of Argentina. World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els, who turns 50 after the conclusion of the regular season, will have to wait until 2020 to make his official debut.

“I am excited to begin this new chapter in my career and eager to compete alongside my peers on PGA Tour Champions,” Goosen said in a statement. “The level of competition on this Tour is incredible and creates great drama for fans around the world each week, and I cannot wait to be a part of it.”

In 2019, PGA TOUR Champions will welcome three new title sponsors to the annual schedule, including Hoag Hospital with the Hoag Classic (March 4-10), Mastercard with the Mastercard Japan Championship (June 3-9) and Bridgestone with the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship (July 8-14), which will be contested at Firestone Country Club’s South Course in Akron, Ohio.

rob@killarneygolfmedia.com

Rob started covering the Wisconsin golf scene in 1987 at the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison & has been the only reporter covering all levels of state golf. He joined Killarney Golf Media in Sept. 2015 & helped launch Wisconsin.Golf in Jan. 2016.