Looking back at Bruno’s

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Bruno’s Memorial Classic at Greystone Golf and Country Club is now history.

The tournament, which had become a favorite for PGA Champions Tour golfers, showcased its final round in Shelby County Sunday.

The event will move up the road to the new Ross Bridge Golf Course in Hoover, part of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Players have talked for years about how much they enjoyed playing at Greystone and gushed even more about how well the event team took care of their wives.

The stop became a favorite for the wives of some of the biggest names in golf because of the way tournament organizers pampered them while their husbands were out knocking the ball around the Founders Course.

Fans seemed equally impressed with the Classic, packing the galleries during each of the tournament’s 14 years.

The crowds during the celebrity Pro-Am were said to rival even final-round draws for some other tournaments, according to folks who follow the tour.

Sports Illustrated even ranked the event the No. 1 stop on the Champions Tour when they ranked PGA events last year.

Though the final round of the Bruno’s at Greystone ended without celebration – D.A. Weibring wasn’t declared the winner until some 10 minutes after tapping in on No. 18 due to questions about his ball moving before the putt – the tournament leaves Shelby County with some classic memories.

George Archer won the first tournament in 1992, despite shooting a final-round 74. He opened play with a 66 and 68 in the first two rounds.

Bob Murphy picked up his first Champions Tour victory the following year, back when the event was held during the summer heat of August.

There were also plenty of close contests along the way.

A bogey putt was good enough to settle a three-way playoff between John Bland, John Paul Cain and Kermit Zarley in 1996 as bland emerged as the winner.

The Bruno’s also served as a showcase for the sportsmanship shared by professional golfers.

Hale Irwin cheered playing partner Jay Sigel down the 18th fairway as Sigel claimed the title in 1997.

Hubert Green, who helped designed Greystone’s Founders Course, picked up the win in 1998.

Last year Bruce Fleisher dedicated his 7-stroke win to Green, who played in the tournament while recovering from throat cancer.

Even this year’s grounded-putter discrepancy reinforced characteristics of golf that make the game so great.

Weibring said, if not for instant replay, he would have taken a penalty that would have cost him the outright win and forced a three-way playoff with Tom Jenkins and Tom Kite.

&uot;It was just one of those things that makes our game special,&uot; Weibring said. &uot;In other sports they see what they can get away with. In our sport, we tend to penalize ourselves when we’re not sure.&uot;

That’s why they call it a gentlemen’s game.

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at mailto:ashley.vansant@shelbycountyreporter.com