2021 Senior PGA Champ Visits Harbor Shores For 2022 Preview

2021 Senior PGA Championship winner Alex Cejka visited Harbor Shores this week for a preview of the 2022 Senior PGA Championship site

2021 Senior PGA Champ Visits Harbor Shores For 2022 Preview

Over the last ten years, Michigan has quietly hosted five men’s major championships: the 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 — and soon the 2022 — Kitchenaid Senior PGA Championship.

The 2022 KitchenAid Senior PGA will be held May 26 – May 29, 2022 at Harbor Shores Golf Club in Benton Harbor. You can get tickets and packages at the link.

The Senior PGA is held biennially at Harbor Shores Golf Club thanks to fact that title sponsor KitchenAid is headquartered in Benton Harbor (along with parent company Whirlpool).

Whirlpool/KitchenAid was one of the few major companies remaining in Benton Harbor after a 1980s economic downturn left the town bereft of its once-solid manufacturing base.

Indeed, rather than abandon Benton Harbor, Whirlpool was part of a $900 million transformation of miles of abandoned factories, dumps and toxic waste grounds into residential and recreational neighborhoods.

Harbor Shores is a Jack Nicklaus design that is the centerpiece of the project.

2021 Senior PGA Championship winner Alex Cejka tries his hand at fishing this past week in Benton Harbor.

Alex Cejka, the 2021 Senior PGA Championship winner visited Benton Harbor and Harbor Shores this past Monday. After a tour of the town, in which he participated in glass blowing and took a short fishing trip, Cejka stopped by the club for a meeting with area media.

Cejka has an interesting story to tell. His family fled the communist Czech Republic when he was nine, and eventually settled in West Germany.

Cjeka remembered:

Obviously it was still Communism when I was young. My parents decided that’s not the they want for them or their kids, so my dad decided to try and escape through the Czech Republic. You know, I was nine years old. When you’re that young, you don’t know what the danger, what the story, what your dad has in his mind.

So when we made the trip for me, it was like a vacation. I was a young, little kid. I didn’t know how tricky, difficult, deadly it can be back then and a huge credit to my dad that he did it with basically an eight- or nine-year-old kid to
leave his home, his country, immigrate to a different country with different language. No skills no, work, no home, no nothing. It was very tough.

I think the trip took a couple weeks. I was too young to understand exactly how long. I remember very vaguely just a couple things, but the most important I remember when my dad just, you know, started crying, hugged me, said, “You did it, we did it.” I had no idea what that meant.

Somehow we were in Germany somehow and as a young kid, you don’t really feel — literally, the Czech Republic and Germany, you don’t know the difference and you don’t know what Communism is, and you don’t know basically
what a s— life Communism can be. When all this happened, I’m so grateful that my dad had the courage to do it. And I’m just grateful that everything turned out totally different 40, 50 years later.

Alex Cjeka

Cjeka turned pro at age 18. He won four times on the European Tour and once on the PGA TOUR at the 2015 Puerto Rico Open.

2021 was Cejka’s rookie year on the PGA TOUR Champions and he made the most of it. With conditional status, Cejka two majors: the Regions Tradition and the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship (at Southern Hills).

In doing so, Cejka became the first PGA TOUR Champions player to win his first two major starts since Arnold Palmer, and the first rookie to win two majors since Jack Nicklaus in 1990.

Cejka will defend his title in 2021, facing a lineup that should include 2020 Ryder Cup Captains Padraig Harrington and Steve Stricker, Hall of Famers Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Colin Montgomerie, Fred Couples, Bernhard Langer, Vijay Singh, Sandy Lyle and Jose Maria Olazabal. Other names of note that have committed are David Duval, David Toms, Mike Weir and the ever-popular John Daly.

While meeting with the media, Cejka demonstrated a few swings.

Cejka also met with some kids from the First Tee Benton Harbor and earned the charity $5,000 with a successful shot at a target.

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