The U.S. Senior Open is officially underway at Warren Golf Course, the first time a major championship has ever been held on a college campus.
Monday was just a practice round for the golfers in the field, a chance for them to get a feel for the course before the action counts for real beginning Thursday.
There are 156 men total competing for the championship, including big names like Miguel Angel Jimenez, Tom Watson, and Rocco Mediate.
History will be made this weekend right here in South Bend, and both Notre Dame and the USGA couldn't be more excited to see the tournament unfold.
"It's exciting for us at Notre Dame, it's exciting for the region, for the city to welcome this great event," Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins said. "I acknowledge Bill Warren, whose vision and generosity made this course possible. It's really the culmination of a dream, to have the U.S. Senior Open here at Notre Dame."
"It's just such a thrill to be here in South Bend and at the Warren Golf Course at Notre Dame," USGA senior official Mike Butz said. "As you said, years and years of planning, great partners with the University of Notre Dame, and the city of South Bend, we've gotten such great support, we're finally excited about kicking it off and getting it going."
The day featured a tribute to the military on the 12th green. Fr. Jenkins was joined by representatives from the USGA, Notre Dame ROTC, and members of the military to honor those who served.
They spoke about Notre Dame's long history with the military, going all the way back to Fr. Corby blessing Union and Confederate soldiers on the battlefield in the Civil War, as well as the importance of honoring our veterans and remembering the sacrifices they have made.
The Great Lakes Band played the national anthem and the songs of the various branches of the military.
Fr. Jenkins and Butz both said it's only right to thank those who protect us.
"As we enjoy ourselves and enjoy these wonderful golfers, we don't ever want to forget those who served our nation, particularly those in the military who put themselves in harm's way," Fr. Jenkins said. "So, we want to acknowledge their service by welcoming them to this open competition, and to just celebrate their great service to this country."
"It's really just a time to stop and say thank you to the military," Butz added. "And not just locally, and certainly everything that happens at the University of Notre Dame, but being the United States Golf Association, it's just appropriate for us to do that, and it's a just a great way to start off a championship."
The USGA is putting their money where their mouth is, offering free admission all week to all military members and veterans. They can also buy up to two tickets per day at half price for family and friends.