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PGA Tour to bring world's best golfers to Delaware for first time

Kevin Tresolini
Delaware News Journal

The world’s best golfers will tee off in the First State for the first time.

The 2022 BMW Championship will be played on Wilmington Country Club’s South Course, the PGA Tour announced on Tuesday.

Exact dates have not been determined, but it will likely be in late August.

It marks a return of professional golf to Delaware. The LPGA Championship had been held at DuPont Country Club in Rockland in front of huge galleries from 1994 through 2004, following the LPGA McDonald’s Championship being there from 1987-93.

Jon Rahm, right, is congratulated by Dustin Johnson on the first playoff hole during the final round of the BMW Championship golf tournament at the Olympia Fields Country Club in Olympia Fields, Ill., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020.

The Bell Atlantic Classic on the Senior (now Champions) PGA Tour had been held just across the Delaware border at Hartefeld National Golf Club, in Avondale, Pennsylvania, in 1998 and 1999.

This will be the first PGA Tour event in Delaware.

“We’re thrilled to be taking the BMW Championship to Wilmington Country Club, one of the finest clubs anywhere in the United States,” said Vince Pellegrino, Western Golf Association senior vice president of tournaments, in the tournament’s announcement.

“The South Course has everything you look for in a traditional championship layout. It will present a strategic test for the world’s best players and a perfect venue for fans and PGA TOUR partners.”

Known as the Western Open until 2007, the BMW Championship began in 1899 and has been held annually since 1901 except 1918 (World War I) and 1943-45 (World War II). It is part of the FedEx Cup playoffs and includes the top 70 players seeking one of 30 spots in the season-ending PGA Tour Championship.

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Previous winners have included Delaware’s own Ed “Porky” Oliver (1941), Ben Hogan (1946, ’48), Sam Snead (1949-50), Arnold Palmer (1961, ’63), Jack Nicklaus (1967-68), Tom Watson (1974, ’77, ’84), Tiger Woods (1997, ’99, 2003, ’07, ’09) and Dustin Johnson (2010, ’16).

Tiger Woods

Jon Rahm of Spain defeated Johnson in a playoff for the 2020 title at Olympia Fields (Illinois) Country Club. The 2021 event is at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland.

“It is a great honor for Wilmington Country Club to be the first club in the state of Delaware to play host to the PGA Tour, and to the prestigious BMW Championship,” Wilmington Country Club president Gary Ferguson said in the announcement.

“The passion that fans in this area have for golf is unmatched, and they will enjoy the opportunity to watch the best players in the world compete on this spectacular and challenging golf course.”

Wilmington Country Club has previously hosted the 1913 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 1965 and 1978 U.S. Junior Amateur, the 1971 U.S. Amateur, the 1978 U.S. Girls Junior and the 2003 U.S. Mid-Amateur. The 2013 Palmer Cup competition there matched Europe against a United States team that included 2019 BMW champion Justin Thomas and 2015 runner-up Daniel Berger.

Wilmington Country Club opened in 1901. The club later relocated to its present site north of the city, in Montchanin, in the 1950s. Robert Trent Jones Sr. designed the South Course, which opened in 1959 and covers 7,500 yards from the championship tees.

BMW Championship proceeds benefit the Evans Scholars Foundation, which since 2007 has raised more than $35 million for scholarships for caddies, including recently the Wilmington Country Club’s Dan Walsh, who attends Penn State.

“Delaware is excited to host the 2022 BMW Championship,” Gov. John Carney said in the announcement. “The First State has a long and proud golf history and is ideally positioned to support one of golf's great championships. Not only will the BMW Championship enhance the local economy, it will showcase a wonderful course and dynamic community to a global audience.”

Have an idea for a compelling local sports story or is there an issue that needs public scrutiny? Contact Kevin Tresolini at ktresolini@delawareonline.com and follow on Twitter @kevintresolini. Support local journalism by subscribing to delawareonline.com.