Southern Open Golf Tournament on the PGA Tour

The Southern Open, called the Buick Challenge over the last few years of its history, was a golf tournament on the PGA Tour that was played for more than 30 years, from the early 1970s to the early 2000s. It was always played in Georgia.

First played: 1971

Last played: 2002

The Southern Open was a popular stop on the PGA Tour for decades, altough never considered one of the top-tier tournaments. It ended when Buick withdrew from sponsoring golf tournaments after the 2002 event, and no replacement title sponsor could be found.

Fred Wadsworth won the tournament in 1986 after getting into the field through Monday qualifying. Another Monday qualifier didn't win on the PGA Tour until 2010.

The 72-hole tournament scoring record of 261 was set by Jonathan Byrd in 2002, the last time the Southern Open (then called the Buick Challenge) took place. The tournament's 18-hole record was 61, set by Hale Irwin in 1982 and matched by Rod Curl in 1986 and Dave Barr in 1988. This was often one of the better scoring events on the PGA Tour. Hubert Green's winning score of 265 was the lowest on the PGA Tour in 1984.

The largest margin of victory was seven strokes, first established by Jerry Pate in 1977 and matched by Ken Brown in 1987. Pate was the only back-to-back winner in 1977-78. Hubert Green and Steve Elkington were the only other 2-time champs, although a couple other golfers came close. Fred Funk, one year after winning in 1995, lost in a five-man playoff and then, in 1998, lost in another playoff. One year after winning in 1980, Mike Sullivan lost in a playoff. And one year before he won in 1997, Davis Love III lost in a playoff.

Johnny Miller's first career win on the PGA Tour was the 1971 Southern Open.

Also known as: In its first year the tournament was named the Green Island Open Invitational. From 1995 until it ended in 2002, it was named the Buick Challenge. "Southern" was part of the tournament title in every other year: Southern Open Invitational (1971); Southern Open (1972-89); Buick Southern Open (1990-94).

Winners of the Southern Open

1970 — Mason Rudolph, 274
1971 — Johnny Miller, 267
1972 — DeWitt Weaver, 276 (def. Chuck Courtney in playoff)
1973 — Gary Player, 270
1974 — Forrest Fezler, 271
1975 — Hubert Green, 264
1976 — Mac McLendon, 274
1977 — Jerry Pate, 266
1978 — Jerry Pate, 269
1979 — Ed Fiori, 274 (def. Tom Weiskopf in playoff)
1980 — Mike Sullivan, 269
1981 — J.C. Snead, 271 (def. Mike Sullivan in playoff)
1982 — Bobby Clampett, 266
1983 — Ronnie Black, 271 (def. Sam Torrance in playoff)
1984 — Hubert Green, 265
1985 — Tim Simpson, 264
1986 — Fred Wadsworth, 269
1987 — Ken Brown, 266
1988 — David Frost, 270 (def. Bob Tway in playoff)
1989 — Ted Schulz, 266
1990 — Kenny Knox, 265 (def. Jim Hallet in playoff)
1991 — David Peoples, 276
1992 — Gary Hallberg, 206*
1993 — John Inman, 278 (def. Billy Andrade, Mark Brooks, Brad Bryant and Bob Estes in playoff)
1994 — Steve Elkington, 200*
1995 — Fred Funk, 272
1996 — Michael Bradley, 134* (def. Fred Funk, Davis Love III, John Maginnes and Len Mattiace in playoff)
1997 — Davis Love III, 270
1998 — Steve Elkington, 267 (def. Fred Funk in playoff)
1999 — David Toms, 271
2000 — David Duval, 269
2001 — Chris DiMarco, 267 (def. David Duval in playoff)
2002 — Jonathan Byrd, 261
(*shortened by bad weather)

Golf courses: The original golf course, and the one that was used through the 1990 Southern Open, was Green Island Country Club in Columbus, Georgia. From 1991 through the end, the tournament took place on the Mountain View Course at Callaway Gardens Resort in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

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